It is not uncommon to feel your muscles aching or have a sore back every now and again. Most people feel these muscle aches and pains from time to time. Muscle pain can be mild or sometimes very painful. The pain may go away in a few days or it can linger for a long time. Muscle pain can develop almost anywhere in your body; your neck, back, legs, shoulders, arms and even your hands.
Some common causes of muscle pain are due to tension, stress, over-using that body part and from minor injuries. Caregivers are no exception to experiencing any or all of these muscle pain symptoms.
What causes Neck Pain?
Your neck supports the weight of your head, it is flexible, can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict motion. Neck pain causes include:
Muscle strains. Example: too many hours non-stop, sitting at your computer or on your smart phone, can trigger muscle strains, it is called overuse. Also, minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain neck muscles. Remember, your body is your temple, treat it kindly with respect.
- Worn joints. Alike other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in a whiplash injury. Whiplash happens when the head is jerked backward and then forward, resulting in a strain of the soft tissues of the neck.
- Diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, and cancer are all diseases that can cause neck pain.
Are you experiencing these signs and symptoms of neck pain?
- When driving or working at a computer for an extended period of time does your pain get worse?
- Do you have muscle tightness and spasms?
- Do you have decreased ability to move your head?
- Do you have headaches?
The following are simple self care measures that will help to relieve your neck pain.
- Posture. Practice proper posture and incorporate some simple changes in your daily routine.
- Daily exercises. Stretch gently each day your entire body. Gently stretch your neck from side to side (10 times) each side, then forward and backward (10 times) each way.
- Gently roll your shoulders forward then backward (10 times). Once your pain has subsided, gently tilt, bend and rotate your neck. To help loosen up your neck and shoulder muscle warm your neck and back with a heating pad or in the shower or bath. You should always consult your doctor before doing these exercises.
- Alternate heat and cold. Apply cold, an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel, for up to 20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation. Or, you can alternate the cold treatment with heat. Take a warm shower or use a heating pad on the low setting.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers.Try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
Most neck pain will gradually improve with home treatment, however. if it does not, you should see your doctor.
If your neck pain is severe and caused because of an injury, such as a motor vehicle accident, a diving accident or fall you should seek immediate doctor’s care.
7 Ways to help prevent Neck Pain:
- Practice good posture. When standing and sitting, keep your shoulders in a straight line over your hips and your ears.
- Take frequent breaks.If you travel long distances or work long hours at your computer, get up, move around and stretch your neck and shoulders regularly.
- Adjust your desk, chair and computer so that the monitor is at your eye level. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Make use of your chair’s armrests to rest your arms and hands.
- Do not tuck the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk. Use a headset or speaker phone instead.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can put you at higher risk of developing neck pain.
- Do not carry heavy bags with straps over your shoulder. The weight can strain your neck.
- Sleep in a good position. Your head and neck should be aligned with your body. Use a small pillow under your neck. Sleep on your back with your thighs elevated on pillows, this position will flatten your spinal muscles.
Leg cramps are most common when you’re resting or sleeping. If leg cramps are disturbing your sleep try the following.
How to Relieve Leg Cramps:
- Drink plenty of liquids every day so you keep your body properly hydrated;
- Fluids help your muscles contract and relax;
- Wear shoes that properly support your feet;
- take a spin on a stationary bike for a few minutes before bedtime;
- Loosen the cover at the foot of your bed.
- Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly. If you’re unable to stand, sit on the floor or in a chair with your affected leg extended. Pull the top of your foot on the affected side toward your head keeping your other leg straight. This will also help ease a back thigh (hamstring) cramp. For a front thigh (quadriceps) cramp, use a chair to steady yourself and try pulling your foot on the affected side up toward your buttock.
- Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles. Take a warm bath or direct the stream of a hot shower onto the cramped muscle. You can also massage the cramped muscle with ice.