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What Could Be Causing That Constant Ache In Your Neck?

Neck pain can be miserable and interfere with your daily activities. There are three common causes, but through rest, lifestyle changes, and medical treatment, you may find significant relief.

Neck Strain

Neck strain is the most common cause of neck pain, but with proper care, it may resolve over time. You need to examine whether you are holding your neck in awkward positions during daily activities such as hunching over while working on the computer or as you are driving. Your neck has to support your head, which is actually quite heavy, and the muscles can become easily strained.

Poor sleeping positions such as resting on your stomach, in a fetal position, or in a way that disrupts the natural alignment of your spine can cause soreness and pain. The best position is to sleep on your side with your weight evenly distributed so you avoid compressing nerves, and make sure you have proper support for your neck. Invest in a good pillow that supports your head and neck without causing undue pressure anywhere.

Carrying heavy purses, bags or suitcases for long periods of time puts a strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. If you need to carry a heavy bag, consider lightening it up by taking non-essentials out, switching sides frequently, or using a bag with rollers (but be sure the handle is adjusted right and you aren't hunching over it as you walk).

To relieve neck strain pain, try resting, switching positions frequently, drinking some valerian or chamomile tea, applying mild heat, and taking a mild pain reliever.


If you have made some changes to counteract neck strain, and they aren't helping much, you may have a medical condition that is causing it. One of the first signs that you are developing fibromyalgia may be discomfort in your neck. If you gently feel around the base of your neck, you might find that one or more of your lymph nodes is swollen, which is also indicative of the condition.

Some fibromyalgia patients get some relief from taking a prescription like tramadol or a high dose of ibuprofen. When you are working or relaxing while sitting, you will need neck support to keep the pain from becoming too intense. Getting up and doing a few stretches frequently will relieve some tension in your neck.

A warm rice bag (uncooked rice in a cloth bag that can be heated in the microwave) or a heating pad placed on the back of the neck can bring some relief when the neck pain is intense.

Bulging Disk

Between each of your vertebrae is a tough but flexible disk made of cartilage with a jelly like core. These disks are the shock absorbers for daily assaults that you put on the spine as you live and work. Through overuse and work, a disk may protrude out of the spinal column and start pressing on your spinal cord or the nerves that branch out from it, so you may also experience numbness or tingling in various areas of your body as well.

If you are experiencing a bulging disk, you can try taking some time off from other activities and give your neck a rest for a few days or a week. Your doctor may prescribe an NSAID or other anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling, a muscle relaxer to treat spasms, and possibly a narcotic pain reliever to counteract the acute pain. This condition can become more serious, so you will need to go to follow up visits with your doctor to make sure the disk does not herniate.

Other Conditions

Other conditions that can cause neck pain are arthritis, whiplash, influenza, meningitis, cervical spinal stenosis (narrowing of spinal canal), and more. As you can see, this list has some serious items on it, so if rest, an OTC medication, and a few lifestyle modifications doesn't relieve your pain, you should seek medical attention promptly. For more information, contact a clinic like Wasilla Physical Therapy.