Tips for Neck and Back Pain

Many people suffer from neck, back and shoulder pain and often don't know what's causing the pain.

Matt Robbins | KIAH

June 23, 2009


Doctors say there are a number of different causes for chronic back and neck pain, but the most common can be fixed without even taking medication.

Charlie Milton is the Director of Rehab at Memorial Hermann Memorial City. He says stress is the number one cause of pain in the neck, back and shoulder areas.

"We typically carry the bulk of that stress in that area and as we all know, in the economy and the way Americans work, the stress that we undergo is tremendous and that's typically where it translates to, so we get stiff muscles," said Milton.

Another cause of pain can come during sleep.

"Especially for back pain, make sure you have your legs in a neutral position when you lie, so that your back is not being rotated and stretched over a long period of time for the night," said Milton.

Dehydration can also cause pain. Muscles store lactic acid in them and drinking water can help flush out that lactic acid, which may relieve some of the pain.

Light stretches and exercises will loosen up tightened muscles, but there should be no pain during stretching, so stop if any pain is present.

" If you move into really stretching and you got something going on, some kind of pain, you may increase that pain and cause it to be in pain for the rest of the day," said Milton.

Simply getting up and moving around will help get muscles moving. Experts suggest taking a break while at work from time to time to stand up and stretch.