Rarely is there a straightforward answer to the question, what causes neck and back pain. It can be caused by a variety of factors that include trauma and injury, but also personal factors that include the age of the patient, weight, overall health and physical activity.
Pain occurs often in the neck and the back because these parts of the human body were designed for mobility. The neck and the back—specifically the cervical and lumbar vertebra–play important roles in everyday movements including walking, bending and twisting, making them more susceptible to injury. Conversely, the middle back area known as the thoracic spine, is not as crucial to mobility as the upper and lower back and less vulnerable to injury.
Degenerative diseases and disorders of the spine often affect people as they age, particularly if they have suffered neck or back pain throughout adulthood. This deterioration for many is a natural part of aging rather than injury or trauma to the neck or back. Degenerative disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis and degenerative disc disorder may worsen if left untreated for a period of time or if additional stress is placed on the neck or back.
In addition to aging and deterioration, many daily activities can cause back or neck pain. Athletes and those who frequently engage in physical activity may succumb to overexertion and cause pain in the neck or back, sometimes both. Those who lead sedentary lives are also at risk for overexertion when an unusual amount of physical activity is performed.
It isn’t just overexertion that can cause back or neck pain, but also improper posture during exercise or sports play. Improper posture can cause spinal misalignment which leads to pain. A personal trainer may be able to help correct improper posture during physical activity to relieve or eliminate neck and back pain.
Stretching before and after physical exertion can prevent neck and back pain. It warms up the muscles before a workout and relaxes them after a vigorous workout.
Poor posture, while common among many, is one of the leading causes of lower back pain. Technology can accept some of the blame for this as sitting hunched over computers, laptops and tablets is partly to blame. But the truth is that offices are not set up to ergonomically efficient to prevent back and neck pain. There are a variety of available ergonomic office equipment including desk chairs, keyboards and desks. Additionally therapeutic pillows can enhance this setup and improve posture by providing lumbar support that makes it difficult to slump.
In fact, therapeutic pillows can keep the spine aligned during sleep and periods of rest, when strategically placed between the knees, under the neck or behind the knees.
Without a doubt, injury is a common cause for pain in the neck and back. Whiplash or a collision due to a sports injury are frequent causes for this pain. Trauma disturbs the natural shock absorbers in the neck, dislodging them and causing pain in the neck. Without proper support, this may also extend to the lower back as well.
Stress may not directly cause back or neck pain, but it can certainly aggravate existing pain. During periods of mental and physical stress, it is common for the body to tense, which causes the muscles in the injured areas to tense and the pain to worsen.
Reduce stress by adapting coping mechanisms that include mediation, yoga, massage therapy, Pilates or medication.
Back and neck pain are often downgraded to a simple inconvenience, but persistent pain should always be checked out by a doctor. Preventive measures might not fully cure back and neck problems, but they may help the patient save money in medical treatments by avoiding invasive and costly procedures such as cortisone injections and surgery.