Neck pain is familiar to many. Most often, only the head and lower back hurt.

How to avoid them and what to do if they arise, says the famous neurologist-vertebrologist and specialist in manual therapy, professor at Sapienza University of Rome Jalal Saidbegov:

– In people over 40 years old, they are found everywhere. In many ways, this is payback for sitting in front of a computer and looking at a mobile phone with your neck bent. And the direct cause of pain most often becomes osteochondrosis.

Another typical cause is herniation and protrusion of the intervertebral discs. Pain can be very sharp and severe, requiring emergency care. And sometimes they become chronic with episodes of exacerbation. Sometimes not only the neck suffers, the pain is given to the arm, the hands may become numb, especially in bed during sleep. Dizziness and unsteady gait are possible. These symptoms develop due to mechanical compression of the vertebral artery, which passes through the neck and supplies blood to the posterior regions of the brain.

If there is a sharp pain in the neck, do not rush to the chiropractor or massage therapist. All manipulations in the neck area can be performed only after MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It can reveal hidden problems in which such treatments are strictly contraindicated. Tragic cases are known when they were performed without a preliminary MRI. Most often this happens when a hernia or osteophytes are directed inside the spinal canal and compress the spinal cord.

The first thing to do in case of pain is to take painkillers. It can be analgin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. Second, create peace for the cervical spine. Third – be sure to wrap your neck with a woolen or downy scarf. A neck brace (collar) creates peace even better. It would be nice to buy it, but for the first time you can make it yourself out of cardboard. From the inside, cover it with a thick soft cloth and attach ribbons to tie it at the back.

AiF drawing

It is very important to properly equip your sleeping place in order to avoid an uncomfortable position for the neck, its excessive flexion or extension. The mattress should be orthopedic, if not, for the first time put a shield under it. The ideal pillow is a small down pillow, the head should not be high. A roller is also needed, it is placed so that it fills the “arch” formed by the shoulder, neck and head. It helps to maintain the most physiological position for the neck when you lie on your back (Fig. 1) and on your side (Fig. 2). In the latter case, the entire spine, including the cervical region, and the head will be in one line, as it were – this is the most useful position. The roller for starters can also be made independently from foam rubber or other soft materials. I advise you to use it not only during illness, but in general all the time. This is a useful thing that will help to avoid many exacerbations due to cervical osteochondrosis and other problems. It is also important for this to never lie down to read or watch TV. And when you read while sitting, do not hang your head down, keep it vertical, leaning on the back of the chair (Fig. 3).

AiF drawing

Of all the physical exercises for pain, only one is allowed. And it is unusual – smoothly and slowly virtually write the infinity sign (horizontal eight) or any letters with your nose (Fig. 4).

AiF drawing