Neck pain is a very common complaint. It is so common that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the prevalence in both males and females of several different age groups. They concluded that in the past three months alone, almost 20 percent of ALL of us have experienced neck pain! That’s a big number!
There can be many different causes for neck pain, including but not limited to compromised sleep, poor posture, excessive stress, and sudden movements. Regardless of the cause, neck pain can be very uncomfortable and even disabling.
When neck pain strikes, keep these tips in mind:
#1) Rest, Rest, Rest!
As neck pain can have a sudden onset, it also can resolve itself pretty quickly! With proper rest, some neck pain will go away without having to do anything else other than allowing our bodies to do its job of recovery. Some neck injuries require no movement at all and can be assisted by wearing a brace. However, it is recommended for less severe injuries to incorporate gentle movement during recovery to aid in the healing process.
#2) Stay Hydrated
We all hear how important it is to drink water. After all, our bodies are mostly water. But did you know that when we are born, our spinal discs are more than 80% water? As we age, this number decreases, but in order to prevent further degeneration and in turn, neck pain, we must stay hydrated daily. Try to make a habit of drinking water in a way that comes easy for you. Maybe frame it around each of your meals or make a daily intake goal and track it on your phone throughout the day.
#3) Use a Topical Pain Relief Lotion
A topical pain relief lotion is a great way to ease pain. Unlike prescription pain medication, there are no side effects or the chance of addiction. Choose a lotion with ingredients, such as menthol, arnica, turmeric, capsicum, and chondroitin. Apply the lotion, wait 5 minutes then apply another layer.
#4) Consider Alternative Therapy
There are several different means of therapy that can help alleviate neck pain. Physical therapy plays a huge role in providing treatments that aim to reduce pain while strengthening the weakened muscles surrounding the area.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that offers relief to many whom suffer from neck discomfort. However, it is an individual experience highly dependent on the patient and the practitioner providing the therapy. Massages can be a beneficial treatment as well. Try these things out and see what works best for you!
#5) Stretch It Out!
Neck pain can stem either from tight muscles, weakened muscles, or both! Either way, it is important to stretch out your neck and the surrounding muscles in the area, such as the shoulders and jaw. So as long as you are not in too much pain while moving, practice some light stretching several times throughout your day.
Some examples are:
- Rolling your shoulders forward and backward
- Drawing circles with your neck
- Reaching your chin to your chest
- Bringing your ears toward each shoulder
Each of these stretches, if possible, should be held for 20-30 seconds rather than doing them quickly. Doing these motions slowly will help prevent any jerking movement, which can lead to more pain.
Other suggestions for neck pain relief are:
- Make a plan to take breaks from looking down at your phone or computer screen regularly
- Apply heat or ice to painful areas
- Invest in a neck-supporting chair or pillow
- Try essential oils to reduce tension
- Practice stress-reducing activities daily, such as breathing exercises
And if you already have neck pain, here are some things to try to avoid completely:
- Sleeping on your stomach
- Fast, quick movements of the head
- Holding your phone with your shoulder
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