Simple & Effective Ways to Reduce Neck Pain
Most people experience neck pain on a semi-regular basis. If you have felt pain when you try to turn your neck one way or the other or when tilting it to one side you know that it’s a sometimes debilitating pain that can prevent you from doing daily activities.
Depending on the severity of your neck pain and what caused it, the pain can also lead to soreness in your shoulders and back as well as headaches and sometimes dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and facial pain. When this happens, you’ll want immediate relief for the pain. To help you achieve this, try some of these simple and effective ways to reduce neck pain.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are a variety of reasons for neck pain but some are more common than others. For most people, neck pain or soreness comes from bad posture while sitting. For example, looking down at your smartphone, a tablet, or a computer screen all day can cause the muscles that surround the neck joints to weaken and stretch out too much causing neck pain. Similarly, driving and straining your neck to see can lead to the same pain. It can also happen in your sleep if you twist the wrong way or fall asleep in an awkward position that puts stress on the muscles in and around your neck.
In more extreme cases neck pain can be associated with conditions like a pinched nerve, degenerative disc disease, whiplash from an accident, a herniated disc, or a localized injury. These are all things that can affect the tissues in your neck and cause pain. Other causes that aren’t as common can be:
- Viral infections that cause lymph node swelling
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Septic discitis
Due to the wide range of causes, anyone at any time can experience neck pain.
Simple & Effective Ways to Reduce Neck Pain
While you can take over-the-counter pain relievers or see a doctor for stronger medication (if deemed necessary), there are simple things you can do to help reduce your neck pain, too. Some of these things can be done on your own at home or with the help of a professional. While some may not work for your specific pain, you should be able to find some relief with at least one of these techniques.
Work Your Muscles Regularly
You don’t have to be a premier athlete to keep your muscles strong. By simply keeping your muscles loose by stretching them through normal exercises or yoga you can keep soreness and stiffness away. Something as simple as neck rolls can keep those muscles loose enough to reduce neck pain by stretching your upper trapezius muscle. A simple stretch like this can be done at your desk during work or at home while you watch television.
Get a Massage
If you’re dealing with neck pain, getting a professional massage can help relieve pain and tension in the area. For those of you who get chronic neck pain, keeping a regular massage therapy routine can work wonders to reduce your pain on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can get a personal massage tool like a roller or wand and try to relieve the pain yourself at home. You can also massage the areas you can reach on your own.
When you go for an acupressure session, pressure is put on specific points in your body in order to relieve pain. These points can vary based on where your pain is but usually, four specific points are targeted. One is in your shoulder muscle which, when stimulated, can relieve stiffness in your neck. The second is in the occipital ridge which helps with general neck pain as well as associated headaches and dizziness. The third contains several points on the head while the fourth point is between your thumb and index finger. When done properly, you can experience a reduction in your neck pain, but this can take several sessions.
Drink More Water
The vertebrae in your spine need water to help maintain proper alignment and disc height which keep pressure off of your spine and neck. Over time, a lack of water in your system can lead to disc degeneration which can cause neck pain and discomfort. By staying properly hydrated, you can keep this from happening and help relieve related neck pain.
Watch Your Posture
As stated earlier, neck pain is related mostly to poor posture. Avoid slouching, craning your neck, and constantly looking down at your phone. Sit with your shoulders back and your back straight instead of slumping your shoulders or leaning your neck to one side of the other.
Go for a Swim Often
Swimming is a low-impact activity that has been shown to have therapeutic effects for pain and inflammation including neck pain. If you have access to a warm swimming pool, the therapeutic effects can be increased significantly. Just keep in mind that you should use gentle strokes that won’t impact your neck as much like the breaststroke.
Get a More Supportive Chair or Pillow
If you think the way you sit or the way you sleep is contributing to your neck pain, switching your chair or pillow to something more supportive can help. Pillows with the right support for your neck can help keep your neck in a neutral position to make sure you don’t put pressure on the nerves or muscles which can lead to neck pain. Similarly, a chair that has a headrest can help support your neck and take the strain off the muscle by allowing you to rest your head comfortably.
Visit a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist
Having a professional manipulate your spine and joints can help relieve neck pain as well as back pain. A chiropractor can move your neck in specific ways to properly align your spine, stretch out the muscles, and to take pressure off any affected nerves. Similarly, a physical therapist can help you strengthen weak muscles in the neck that could be causing your neck pain. If your neck pain stems from a localized injury, a physical therapist can also help you recover from that injury and show you how to avoid hurting the area again.
Heating Pads and Ice Packs
Applying ice or heat to sore muscles is a tried and true way to reduce pain. When the pain starts, use ice to dull the pain. This should be done periodically for the first few days (leave the ice pack in place for no more than 15 minutes at a time). Then, use a heating pad or hot water bottle (or take a warm shower) to relax the muscles and reduce the pain. If using a heating application like a heating pad, be sure not to leave it in place for more than 15 minutes at a time to avoid irritating your skin.
While some of these are incredibly simple and can be done in your home, don’t shy away from seeing a professional for things like massages, acupressure, or general medical help if warranted.
As you can see, there are a lot of simple and effective ways to reduce neck pain on your own or with the help of a professional. One might work better than another for your individual needs and specific type of injury so you may want to try each technique to see which one is the best for you. Remember, if your pain is severe or you suspect that there is something more to your neck pain, don’t hesitate to see your doctor and get a proper evaluation before turning to home remedies.