The skull and neck contain and protect the most vital and sensitive organs of the body; the brain and the spinal cord. There are a group of bones at the front of the neck and the cartilage rings which support the trachea and larynx. Neck popping is felt when the large muscle that extends down the neck to the collar bone is affected. Neck popping may also be felt when you make repeated rotating movements of the head.

The average human head weighs from four to six kilograms. This puts the vertebrae in your neck under considerable pressure even when you are standing still. The neck muscles have to work continuously to balance the weight of your head and to perform the rotating or lateral movements involving the neck. Holding your head in an awkward position for any length of time can cause muscle tension and can compress your neck vertebrae. This may cause discomfort in your neck and spine and a popping neck sensation may be felt when you make movements of your neck.

The best exercise to prevent neck popping is to turn your head to one side until you can’t turn it any further. Bring your head back to the center point, rest a moment and then turn your head to the opposite side. Repeat this exercise a couple of times for a couple of weeks. This exercise routine protects the portion of spine in your neck that supports the weight of your head and also protects the nerves that travel from your head and branch out to the rest of the body.

Your physiotherapist can set you into a programme of regular exercises to reduce the pain felt in the neck and help improve neck mobility and strengthen the muscles that move and support the spinal cord. Relaxation techniques like yoga exercises can help to relive the tension that neck popping can cause. Surgery is not usually recommended to treat neck popping. In severe cases, however, the surgeons may consider fixing the upper vertebrae in place so that further degeneration of the bones in the neck can be avoided.

An occupational therapist can also provide advice on how best to perform your daily chores without straining your neck muscles. Placing frequently used items in accessible cupboards and drawers reduces strain associated with bending and stretching your neck and will help you to avoid episodes of neck popping.

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Steve Butler and his team at Steve’s Health Answers are constantly investigating new research into arthritis, joint care and flexibility. They are leading joint care researchers in the fields of discovering natural methods and individual ways of curing any joint related problems. Steve provides a dedicated joint health web site and newsletter. For more information about neck popping you may visit steveshealthanswers.com

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