Are you fighting your pillow every night without finding a restful position?
Have you tried every pillow under the sun and come to the conclusion that not the pillow but your neck is the problem?
Are you poking around your neck and shoulders all day long? Have you tired your arms and hands without finding major relief?
If this all sounds like you it is time to see a professional massage therapist. You have so many muscles in your neck that work together that it often needs more treatment than some rubs you can give yourself.
You might also not be aware of the fact that often tight shoulder muscles may be the cause of pain in the neck. Because your neck is connected with the rest of your body, the problem could also well have started in your lower back or your feet.
Have you ever “slept funny” at night so that you couldn't turn your head the next morning? Did it make every movement an agony?
Then it is very likely that you have had neck problems for a long time, without being aware of it. Often neck problems start slowly and develop into a real "pain in the neck" over the years. In the end, stiff and tense neck muscles might cause headaches and migraines.
A very obvious cause of neck pain is an accident, a whiplash injury, a fall or another kind of neck trauma. Other frequent causes we hear of from our clients are bad posture, computer work, cradling the phone receiver or a bad pillow.
The muscles in the back of the neck often have to tighten to enable us to look straight when our head is pulled forward or sidewards due to muscular tightness.
The back muscles are also closely related to our neck. A change in pelvic position, for example, will alter the position of the eyes, and vice visa. Often clients often report that they had lower back pain prior to the onset of their neck problems.
Neck stiffness or dysfunctional neck muscles may also be caused by a dislocated jaw joint (TMJ) or, more often, play a role in the development of a dysfunction of the jaw joint.
Myofascial trigger points, small contractions in the muscle fibers, are almost always the reason for muscular neck pain, tension and stiffness, whether these points are in the neck or shoulder muscles. Just poke a little bit into your neck muscles when they are tense and, with the right amount of pressure, you will have no problem feeling some of these sore spots.
These tender points may not only stiffen up the neck muscles but also refer pain further away, mostly into the head. Most tension headaches can be traced down to trigger points in the head, neck or shoulder muscles. Therefore many people who see us not only complain about neck problems but also about headaches at the same time.
A very effective treatment for neck pain, stiffness or tension is massage. It not only loosens up the neck muscles, but over time also gives your joints more room to operate freely.
At the same time you should have a critical look at your various postures throughout the day. After watching yourself for a while, you are likely to find some situations where you strain your neck muscles more or longer than necessary.
How do you sit in front of your computer? Do you position yourself so
that you repeatedly have to look up or down? Do you have to incline your
head far forward in order to read everything?
Do you sit in a car for long periods, moving your head into awkward positions to see everything?
Do you slouch or lie on your stomach while watching TV or reading a book?
Do you sleep on your stomach with your head always turned to the same side?
Do you work in a position where you have to look up- or downwards most of the time?
If you cannot correct an unhelpful posture, it is at least advisable to stop every hour and move your head carefully in all directions so as to loosen up your tight muscles.
It is important to start massage treatment for neck muscle problems as soon as possible because, if left, dysfunction and pain in the neck can create an escalating cycle that exacerbates the original problem and thereby complicates and prolongs the treatment.
The longer you wait, the greater the number of muscles become implicated, and you may end up needing long-term therapy. This might also mean that you will possibly get worse before you get better. This is because now so many more muscles are involved, and each one needs to find a new balance - so that you can finally be pain-free.
Another reason for not waiting too long before seeking treatment is that you might become frustrated during a long-term therapy and subsequently give up too early, before the cure has had time to be effected. It takes time to free up a neck that hardly can be moved anymore, so don't waste time procrastinating.
References for "massage and neck pain": www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24615306