©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Neck strain can come from poor sleeping habits.

"This job is a pain in the neck" may be more than just a saying. Tension on the job or at home, tasks that require a lot of leaning over a work surface, poor posture, and even a too-soft mattress can cause neck pain and stiffness. Of course, some neck pain is the result of injury or disease, but the vast majority of neck pain is due to simple muscle tension.

 

The neck, with its intricate structure and wide range of mobility, is particularly vulnerable to stress and strain. The head, which weighs between 10 and 20 pounds, is supported by a stack of seven small bones called vertebrae and held in place by 32 complex muscles.

Attached to and between the vertebrae are pads of fibrous cartilage called discs that act as cushions, or shock absorbers. Eight nerves, which relay sensations (including pain), and four major arteries, which carry blood, run through the neck and connect the head with the shoulders, chest, and arms. The delicate spinal cord runs through the center of the stack of vertebrae and is protected by it. Add to this complex structure the fact that the neck moves more than any other part of the body, and you've got a formula for trouble.

It's a vicious cycle. When our muscles tense, either because of physical or emotional stress, the blood supply to the muscles decreases, causing pain. And that pain causes the muscles to tense further. That's why the best way to relieve neck pain is to try to eliminate or ease the physical or emotional stress in addition to treating the muscles.

The home remedies on the next page can help you break the tension-pain cycle and learn new habits that will keep the tension from developing in the first place.

For more information about neck pain and how to combat it, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.