According to WebMD, about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain. Those symptoms could be due to a number of different factors, the most common being aging, general degeneration and sometimes even more serious medical issues like cervical spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column). No matter the cause, there are always ways you can prevent lingering back and neck pain, and most of them are simple steps you can incorporate into your daily life.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of three ways to help fight your back and neck pain without having to endure cervical surgery or other medical procedures. Whether you have cervical spinal stenosis or something much more mild — like mild discomfort, for example — it all starts with a few simple lifestyle tweaks:
1. Optimize your work space.
If you’re staring at a screen all day, you’re already upping your risk for what optometrists call computer vision syndrome. Couple that with a greater chance of developing lingering upper back and neck pains and you have a recipe for disaster right at your desk. To better help your neck, try to position your monitor about 15 inches below eye level and keep all paperwork next to the screen to minimize the number of times you have to move your neck while typing. Of course, it’ll also help to…
2. Fix your posture.
Slouching over a keyboard is just about the worst thing you can do for your neck. And the same thing goes for smartphones and tablets, too. Doctors today are even referring to long-term neck damage from mobile use as “text neck” — something that’s entirely preventable. All it takes is sitting up with your back straight and keeping your ears level over your shoulders. Being mindful of simple steps like these are key for avoiding neck surgery or disc replacement procedures in the future.
3. Invest in a better bed.
Plenty of studies have linked a poor, flat mattress with lasting back pain, though we often associate bad bed support with lower back pain. The truth is that your entire spine is S-shaped and benefits mostly from the right amount of support and cushioning. As for your neck, load up on the pillows for comfort — but not too many, as they can leave your neck feeling stiff or uneven.
As you can see, the first signs of neck or upper back pain aren’t anything to become extremely worried about. You may not have cervical spinal stenosis; you might just need to readjust your work and sleep habits in order to better accommodate your cervical spinal health. Of course, if the pain persists, it’s always a good idea to talk to your physician. In the meantime though, it might help to try these three tips and see what happens.