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More than 30% of Americans experience neck pain in any given year. While traumatic injuries, such as car accidents, are one cause of neck pain, many people develop neck symptoms as a result of lifestyle habits that strain and stress the neck joints and surrounding muscles.

At Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, offers a broad array of treatments for neck pain relief, including lifestyle guidance to help you keep symptoms at bay. If you have neck pain, here are six common habits that could be to blame.

1. Smoking

Smoking damages blood vessels, making it harder for blood to circulate. Since healing depends on regular delivery of oxygen and nutrients to repair damaged tissues, it makes sense that if you smoke, those processes can be delayed.

What’s more, research shows that smoking increases the risk of suffering disc problems in the neck. This can contribute to degenerative problems, which can lead to compressed nerves and pain in both your neck and shoulder areas.

2. Poor posture

Slouching may seem like a comfortable alternative to sitting up straight, but that comfort may be short-lived. Over time, slouching and hunching can put extra strain on your shoulders and neck, which can lead to irritation and inflammation.

On the other hand, maintaining a good posture can relieve that strain by “lining up” the bones and joints in your neck and upper back. A good posture can also distribute your weight evenly and allow the surrounding muscles to carry some of the load.

3. Bad sleeping habits

Nothing feels better at the end of a long day than lying down on a comfy bed and indulging in some restful sleep. Unfortunately, if you use too many pillows or pillows that are too high or too flat, you can wind up spending hours with your neck bent in an uncomfortable position.

4. Excessive phone use

Most Americans spend 5-6 hours on their smartphones every day, and more than 10% spend more than seven hours texting and surfing the web on their phones. That’s a lot of hours spent hunched over their devices — and a lot of hours straining their neck muscles. In fact, phone-related neck pain is so common, it’s got a nickname: text neck.

5. Chronic stress

This might be the hardest habit to break since so many of us are surrounded by stress — at work, at home, even during our commute. But chronic stress can cause a lot of muscle tension, typically in the neck and shoulders.

Learning to manage stress with yoga, meditation, or simple breathing exercises may help relieve the strain and reduce pain, too. (Plus, it can be good for your mental health.)

6. Putting off medical treatment

With today’s busy lifestyles, it’s easy to get in the habit of ignoring problems like neck pain, hoping the symptoms will clear up eventually. But neck pain is a sign that something’s wrong, and ignoring it means the underlying problem could get worse. Not only can that mean more painful symptoms, but you might end up needing more aggressive treatment to find relief.

Get rid of your pain in the neck

When caught early, neck pain can often be successfully treated with a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and physical therapy. To learn how we can help you relieve nagging neck pain, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.

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