Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes and Relief
By Annie Hansen //
You know that feeling when you can’t turn your head, so you have to turn your whole body to look at something or talk to someone? The kink in your neck won’t let you whip your hair back and forth.
Sometimes when this happens it actually can be caused by your shoulder. So, some people call it “schneck pain.” Neck and shoulder pain are known to overlap and have some linked causes and treatments.
Why are neck and shoulder pain linked?
Because what sits on top of your shoulders? DUH, your neck! Your neck and shoulder are connected by multiple nerve pathways. If you have been having pain in your shoulders, your neck may actually be to blame.
According to Everyday Health, the shoulder is very complex. It is made up of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Most shoulder pain comes from injury to the soft tissues of the shoulder, but when you experience both neck and shoulder pain, Everyday Health says that cervical disc disease or a problem with your bones or nerves could be the source of your pain.
What can cause neck and shoulder pain?
Well, like said above:
Soft tissue injury
Injury to the ligaments, muscles or tendons in the neck or shoulder can cause mild to serious pain. Just like we have mentioned in a previous blog post about neck pain, injuries that strain the soft tissue will hinder the mobility and movement of the head and neck.
Spine Health says that muscle strain or soft tissue sprain are by far the most common cause of neck and shoulder pain. The muscle that is most susceptible to injury is the levator scapulae muscle. Located at the back and side of the neck, the levator scapulae muscle connects the neck’s cervical spine with the shoulder.
Soft tissue injury can happen in many different ways. The levator scapulae muscle can be injured in everyday activities and we may not realize that we are injuring ourselves until after.
Here are 4 things that can cause soft tissue injury, and neck and shoulder pain:
Have you ever woken up with neck or shoulder pain from sleeping in an awkward position?
When you are sound asleep, your head can fall into a position that puts unwanted stress on your neck and shoulder muscles. Sometimes you feel this pain when you are sleeping, and your brain might do you a solid and let you know that your neck is starting to hurt, and you may re-position your body.
BUT, you may just ignore that hint from the brain and not move your body. You wake up the next morning wishing you had listened to the brain and re-positioned because you have neck and shoulder pain!
- Poor posture
The health of the neck is subject to the curvature of the spine. According to Spine Health, “The forward pull of the weight of the head puts unwanted stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck."
This forward pull can happen when we are hunched over our computers, or looking down at a cell phone for a long period of time.
WAIT! There’s a name for that. Yes, there is a name for neck pain that is caused by looking down at your phone, TEXT NECK. This can cause premature degeneration of the spine and can cause wear and tear that will get worse over time.
- Sudden impact that pushes the head to the side, such as whiplash
When the head is abruptly thrown forward and then backward or side to side, it can cause flexion and extension in the cervical spine. This can result in a sprain in the soft tissues in the neck or shoulders.
This can also be caused by any sharp movements with the head or neck that tweak the soft tissues in the wrong way. Sports injuries can cause soft tissue injury as well.
The cause of neck and shoulder pain may be obvious if you suddenly wake up in the morning and you have neck and shoulder pain, or you fall during a sporting game and you feel symptoms right away. If the neck and shoulder pain comes out of nowhere, it could be difficult to identify the exact cause. Like mentioned above, if you feel pain in shoulders, it would not be uncommon for that pain to be caused by something that is wrong in the neck and vice versa.
Another cause of neck and shoulder pain is:
Degenerative disc disease (cervical disc disease)
Cervical disc disease is a condition of the spine that is part of your neck. The cervical spine has bones or vertebrae that allow you to be able to move your neck.
Cervical disc disease can put stress on the nerves in your neck and shoulder and can cause neck and shoulder pain. Degenerative disc disease is a general term for the condition in which a damaged vertebral disc causes chronic pain.
Degenerative disc disease is a natural change in the body that occurs over time. In some cases, it can happen to people at a younger age than others as a result of injuries, or other strain on the spine.
Degenerative disc disease is where the discs in the spine break down and cause a loss of fluid in the discs or tiny tears and cracks in the disc. These can cause the discs to lose the ability to absorb shock and can cause the discs to be forced out of alignment and result in a bulging disc.
This can cause neck and shoulder pain. When degenerative disc disease takes place in the cervical spine, the discs will lose hydration and height over time. Unwanted pressure will increase in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and can result in neck and shoulder stiffness. This process can result in neck pain and stiffness.
Like we mentioned above, degenerative disc disease occurs naturally over time, through twisting, moving, and living life. It is a natural course of the body that happens to everyone. However, injury to the cervical spine, head, neck or shoulders can cause the disc degeneration process to rapidly pick up and cause neck and shoulder pain earlier on in life.
These are common causes of neck and shoulder pain.
So, how do I get rid of neck and shoulder pain?
That’s a great question! One that we can answer. Here are:
5 ways to relieve neck and shoulder pain
- Change your sleeping position
- If you sleep on your stomach and find that you wake up with neck and shoulder pain in the morning, try sleeping on your back.
- Use our 4 Simple Steps For Better Posture At Work method!
- This will help you to have better posture while working at your computer day in and day out.
- Avoid “text neck”
- If you don’t have to be down on your phone, don’t be! If you do, then try holding it up in front of your eyes so it doesn’t strain your neck. It may seem weird, and look weird, but it will feel MUCH better.
- SLOWLY ease into stretching and exercising your neck and shoulder muscles
- Yes, we say slowly to avoid further injury. The right stretches, and the right exercises will increase range of motion and strength in the neck.
- Use the Chirp Wheel
- To relieve tight muscles, correct poor posture and help the natural curvature of the spine. As mentioned above, a healthy neck (and back) relies on the natural s-curve of the spine to be aligned.
- The Chirp Wheel fits between your shoulder blades and can go all the way up to your neck to relieve the tightness in the muscles. This will allow neck and shoulder pain relief.
- The wheel can also be placed behind your chair at the office to allow you to sit up straight will looking at your computer screen!
- The rigid core of the wheel will also help you maintain the natural s-curve in the spine that will allow for more mobility, and relieve the neck and shoulder pain.
Get the best neck and shoulder pain relief with the Chirp Wheel!