6 Things to Stop Doing If You Have Neck Pain

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Your PT Can Show You What to Avoid if You Have Neck Pain

Woman texting and holding neck in pain
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If you have neck pain, then you may benefit from physical therapy to help decrease your pain and improve your neck range of motion (ROM) and mobility.  Your physical therapist can tell you what you need to do to help you return to your normal activities.

Your physical therapist can also tell you what you should avoid if you have neck pain. When treating your neck pain, you need to be active in your treatment, and you should stop doing certain things that may be causing your neck pain or things that may be leading to unnecessary worry and anxiety about your pain.

When neck pain strikes, check in with your doctor, and then visit your PT to learn how to treat it. This guide is can help you understand some of the things to stop doing while managing your neck pain.

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Waiting for Your Neck Pain to Go Away

Photo of a woman at work holding her neck.
When neck pain strikes, stop waiting for it to go away. Thomas_EyeDesign/Getty Images

If you develop neck pain, you may feel that if you simply wait, the pain will disappear just as suddenly as it appeared.  While this may occasionally be true, there are some things that you should to do help make the pain go away when neck pain strikes. A visit to your physical therapist to learn the proper exercises to initiate can help you rapidly return to your previous pain free lifestyle. Your PT will also teach you strategies to keep the pain from coming back.

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Slouching to Treat Your Neck Pain

Woman with poor posture sitting at desk in chair
Stop slouching to start treating your neck pain. Diane Diederich/E+/Getty Images

Poor posture while sitting or standing is one of the major causes of neck pain. If you develop pain in your neck, have your physical therapist check your posture. He or she can offer ideas to help you consistently change your posture and can teach you the proper way to sit to keep your neck in the best position possible. Postural exercises may be prescribed to help you improve your sitting or standing posture as well.

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Staying Sedentary

Physical therapist working with man exercising
Your PT can teach you exercises to help your neck pain. Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Stop being a couch potato. Exercise is one of your main tools in keeping your neck pain away. General exercise can help you keep neck pain at a minimum, and specific neck exercises and postural strengthening exercises can ensure that you rapidly resolve your neck pain and keep it from coming back.

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Sleeping With Too Many Pillows

Rearview of woman sleeping.
Sleeping with too many pillows can place strain on your neck. Lumina Images/Getty Images

Stop sleeping with too many pillows. If you are sleeping with more than one pillow, stop. Your neck is comprised of multiple bones that form a forward curve called a lordosis. When you sleep with multiple pillows, you are flexing your head forward while sleeping, and this can cause you to lose your cervical lordosis and place increased stress on your neck's discs, joints, and muscles. Learn to sleep with one pillow and use a cervical roll to help support your neck's natural forward curve while your sleep.

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Relying on Passive Treatments for Neck Pain

Photo of woman getting ultrasound in physical therapy.
Ultrasound is a therapeutic modality used in PT. Is it right for you?. UpperCut Images/ Getty Images

Your physical therapist is a movement expert who can offer you active strategies to treat your neck pain. Some physical therapists use passive treatments like ultrasound or cervical traction to treat neck pain, but relying too heavily on these passive treatments is not the most effective way to treat your neck pain. Make sure your PT is teaching you active exercises and strategies so you can learn to self-manage your neck pain.

Although neck pain most often is a mechanical problem in your body, sometimes serious conditions manifest themselves as neck pain. If you have persistent neck pain or pain associated with fatigue, fever, or weight loss, you should get to your doctor right away to investigate the cause of your pain.

Neck pain can cause you to lose sleep, miss work, or avoid participating in normal recreational activities. Working with your physical therapist can help you learn what you need to do, and what you should stop doing, to manage your neck pain.

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Excessive Texting

Looking down while texting. 159230825.JPG
Flexing your head down while texting may be causing your neck pain. Reza Estakhrian/Getty Images

Most folks are tied to their smartphones and tablets these days, and many people use their phone to text frequently throughout the day.  When texting and looking down at your phone for hours on end, you are placing your neck in an extreme position of forward flexion, and this can lead to text neck, a relatively new condition of neck pain caused by excessive smartphone and tablet use. Visit your PT, and learn how to counteract the forces that you are placing on your neck while texting.  Better yet, stop texting and reach out to your friends with a personal phone call.

When neck pain strikes, you can control your pain by avoiding certain things. Visit your PT to learn how to properly treat your neck pain, so you can get back to your normal active lifestyle.

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