What Neck Pain Means to the Female Body

Believe it or not, men and women have different anatomies. While that doesn’t much impact how we think — or how we function in the workplace — it certainly does impact how we physically feel and the types of medical attention we need. The most obvious example is gynecology: Women need annual check-ups to ensure their reproductive systems are healthy and functioning appropriately, whereas men have no such dedicated doctor and require reproductive check-ups much less frequently. Another good example is women’s breasts, which not only are the leading source of cancer in the female body but also often cause back problems for well-endowed women. These small health differences are important to know, especially if you want to stay strong and pain-free into old age.

Neck pain can be experienced by both sexes, but what it means could be drastically different. If you are a woman suffering from neck pain, it is important that you understand what could be causing it and how you can find help as soon as possible.

Is It a Heart Attack?

You might think you know the symptoms of a heart attack — chest pain and pressure, a tingling left arm, difficulty breathing — but these most famous symptoms are those typically experienced by men. Women have a different set of heart attack signs, to include:

* Aching pain in the jaw or neck
* Acid reflux
* Lightheadedness
* Nausea and vomiting

Many women don’t recognize these as signs of a heart attack and thus don’t receive the immediate treatment they need to prevent long-term damage. If you have any of these symptoms in addition to pressure or pain in your chest, you need emergency medical attention.

Is It Parkinson’s Disease?

New research suggests that ongoing neck pain is an early sign of Parkinson’s disease in women. This is because Parkinson’s disease causes stiff joints and muscle cramps, and the neck is a body part particularly sensitive to these issues. You might see a doctor about Parkinson’s if you also have stiffness and pain in your back and calves, or if you have shaky hands and restless legs. Though Parkinson’s has no cure, your doctor can prescribe medications, therapies and other treatments that will reduce the pain and provide a high quality of life.

Is It Arthritis?

More accurately called cervical spondylosis, arthritis of the neck occurs when the joint becomes worn down through use or age. This condition is exceedingly common amongst the older generation: About 85 percent of those above age 60 are affected by arthritis of the neck — and there is little to be done about it.

Some chronic neck pain treatment options for severe cases might include:

* Anti-inflammatory medication
* Steroid injections
* Physical therapy
* Ice and heat
* Padded collars
* Surgery

Is It Your Posture?

The way you sit, stand and even lie down can affect how your neck feels. The average human spine follows a soft S curve, with the bottom of the S in your lumbar vertebrae and the top of the S at your neck. The angle of curvature for a typical healthy neck — called the cervical lordosis — is about 42 degrees. If you hold your neck improperly, as many desk-workers do, your curvature could be off, increasing the strain on your neck’s tissues and causing pain. Try to roll your neck a few times a day to loosen stiff tissues, then keep the crown of your head pointed to the sky, directly in line with the rest of your spine.

Is It Your Bra?

An ill-fitting bra can cause all sorts of problems — including premature sagging — but neck pain is one of the most overlooked. Often, women who have a band size that is too tight in the back will cause compression of the lower ribs. This leads to slouching and stooping to facilitate breathing and moving — and those postures are bad for the neck. If you can, go without your bad bra for a few days to determine whether this is the cause. Alternatively, you can get measured by a trained professional at any lingerie store.

Is It Your Purse?

Like most women, you probably favor holding your purse on one shoulder over the other. Unfortunately, that near-constant weight on one side will strain the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues of your shoulder, neck and back, causing pain. There are a few ways to fix this — you can carry less weight in your purse, toting around only essentials like a phone and wallet. Alternatively, you can shove everything in a backpack, which distributes the weight more evenly on your body, or a rolling case. At the very least, you should get in the habit of switching purse shoulders.

Neck pain is a pain in the neck — but it can also be life-threatening. As a woman, you should look into sources of pain and discomfort because they might be signs of something serious. Then, if they aren’t, you remedy your problem with simple steps, which might be as simple as changing your bra.

Thanks to Jackie Roberson

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