Surgeon and spine specialist Paul McDonough, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. After completing a residency and fellowship in orthopedic and spinal surgery, Dr. Paul McDonough devoted his practice completely to the treatment of neck and spine pain. Conditions treated by Dr. McDonough include degenerative arthritis, pain radiating into the arms, and neck pain.
At some point in their lives, most people will experience neck pain, typically characterized by stiffness and soreness of the neck muscles and difficulty in turning the head from side to side. While there are many serious causes of neck pain, such as herniated discs, stenosis (a narrowing of the opening in the vertebrae), and degenerative arthritis, there are many everyday causes of neck pain that a healthy person can watch for and avoid.
Sleeping with the neck in an awkward position is one of the most common causes of neck strain, which can be helped or avoided by carefully choosing the proper size and firmness of the pillow one sleeps on.
Poor posture while sitting at a computer for prolonged periods is another cause of neck pain. Slouching and leaning one’s head down and toward a monitor or any other device should be avoided. Keep the head balanced over the shoulders, allowing the neck muscles to maintain the head upright with minimal effort. Try to raise the top of the computer screen nearly to eye level, and if you must look down, do so by lowering your eyes, not your head.
Holding the head in an unnatural position, such as cradling a phone between the ear and the shoulder, is another common cause of neck strain. If one’s hands need to be free while talking, use a computer or cell phone headset so that you can maintain a healthy posture while talking.