What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain is pain felt in the neck and is medically termed as cervicalgia. More than half of the population has had experienced neck pain at some time or other.
What is the Cause of Neck Pain?
There are many causes for neck pain some of which are: Incorrect sleeping posture, stress, disc herniation, pinched nerve, whiplash injury, stenosis of the spinal canal, dissection of the carotid artery, injury or trauma to the head, ankylosing spondylitis, torticollis, rheumatoid arthritis, mononucleosis, rubella, some types of cancers, fracture of the cervical spine, subarachnoid hemorrhage, lymphadenitis, injury to the thyroid and trachea.
Simple Remedies For Relieving Neck Pain
Caution:Given below are some measures or remedies which can be done at home to relieve neck pain; but the reader should bear this in mind that these are NOT a substitute for treatment. Persistent and severe neck pain should not be ignored and medical attention should be sought immediately.
- Rest is important in any type of pain. Try to relax by lying down. This help in faster recovery for the neck muscles. Avoid using a thick pillow, however, as it can strain the neck further.
- Relax and avoid stress, as stress is a major trigger for neck pain. There are many relaxation techniques which can be tried such as deep breathing and meditation.
- Ice therapy is helpful in relieving pain, inflammation and swelling, if present any. Place some crushed ice or ice cubes in a towel and apply this icepack to your neck. Alternatively you can use frozen food items such as peas from your refrigerator as a substitute. The icepack should be applied to the neck for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Heat therapy is another method to relieve any kind of pain, as it boosts the circulation and soothes tense or stiff muscles. A hot water bottle or a towel soaked and wringed in warm water can be used. You also stand in a hot shower for relief from pain. You can alternately try cold therapy after heat therapy.
- Massaging the neck gently also helps in relieving neck pain by relaxing the stiff muscles and releasing the tension. Massage also improves your sleep. Massage can be done with a lotion or any type of lubricant such as oil. Massage the neck and shoulders using firm, gentle pressure and in small circular motions. Massage can be done for 10 or 15 minutes.
- OTC analgesics can be used for pain relief, but they should be used with caution because of their side effects.
- Always adopt good and correct posture. Not many people are aware that a bad posture is a major cause for neck pain. When a person adopts a bad posture, it pulls forward the lower back curve resulting in more backward curving of the upper back in order to compensate. This leads to forward flexing of the neck which strain the neck.
- You can improve you posture by standing with your back to the wall with your heels some inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulders should be in contact with the wall with the back of your head near the wall. Keep your chin steady. Next, take a step away from the wall, then step back again and check your position. You should try to maintain this posture all through the day.
- If you are overweight, lose the excess weight, as obesity causes strain on the muscles of the body including neck muscles.
- Working on the stomach muscles and core strength is important, as poor abdominal muscle tone also puts strain on the neck resulting in neck pain.
- Exercises, such as sit-ups, can be done to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
- Neck exercises can also be done comprising of gentle range-of-motion exercises and isometric exercises. Before doing these exercises, moist heat application to the neck helps in relaxing the neck muscles. The neck muscles can be gently stretched by doing range-of-motion exercises. Sit in an upright position on a chair. Turn your head slowly to the right as much as you can. Hold this position for some seconds, and then return back to the original position. Repeat the same steps on the left side. Next, slowly drop your chin down towards your chest and relax. Repeat the above process 5 times.
- Isometric exercises are done against resistance and with the head immobile. Sit in an upright position in a chair. Don't tense yourself and be relaxed. Place your palm up to your forehead and push gently on your forehead towards your palm. The palm acts as a resistance to the motion.
- Keep your right hand on the right side of your head, and push your head towards your hand. The hand acts as a resistance to the head's motion. Repeat the same steps on the left side.
- Use both of your hands to press against the back of your head while pushing your head backwards. The pressing action of the hands against the head acts as a resistance to the backward motion of the hands on the head.
- Try to do some sort of exercise daily. Exercise helps in increasing the strength, flexibility and range of motion of the neck. Swimming is an excellent exercise for the whole body and helps in strengthening the muscles of the neck and back.
- When working at a desk job, always work at your eye level. Choose an appropriate chair which gives neck support and adjust the height of your chair according to your comfort.
- Take breaks in between work and stretch your whole body.
- Keep changing your body position.
- Avoid damaging habits such as holding your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking, sleeping in your chair with your head tilted backwards or your chin towards your chest. Do not shampoo your hair in the sink. Get rid of all these bad habits as they put a lot of strain on the neck.
- Use a firm mattress for sleeping and adopt the right posture when sleeping. Many a times, people wake up with a stiff or sore neck in the morning due to bad sleeping posture or not using the right pillow or mattress.
- Always keep your head in alignment with your spine.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it pushes your head up.
- Avoid thick and hard pillows. Use soft, feather or crushed-foam pillows.
All these above measures can be tried to prevent and relieve neck pain. If neck pain persists or if you develop other symptoms with neck pain such as fever, visual disturbances, headache, fever, numbness etc. then visit your doctor immediately.