Neck pain can be a real pain in the neck. (see what I did there!) Our neck allows us to turn our head to take in our surroundings and enables us to perform activities throughout our day. When we experience neck pain, it can make even the simplest things from difficult to near impossible not to mention the headache that is often associated with neck pain.
The structure and function of the neck involves multiple bones and muscles that allow us the movement that we normally enjoy. Because of this complex design, there are a multitude of source of pain. Some good news on this front: there are simple things that you can do to treat and help prevent neck pain.
Here are a few tips to get you through the pain and back to your life!
1- Treat the inflammation
When our bodies get injured, a natural process is to inflame the area to allow for improved healing. The downside is that, often, inflammation can be a major source of pain. Applying ice to the area is helpful in decreasing the pain initially but we want the body to heal. This is why it is best to use ice for the first 72 hours and then use moist heat after that to relax muscles and aid healing.
2- Reduce tight muscles
There are a number of muscles that get tight when our neck hurts and can even be the source of pain. The big three are the trapezius, levator scapulae, and the suboccipital muscles. Stretching these muscles helps the neck be able to move better and with less pain while also aiding in the healing of other components of the spine.
3- Restore range of motion
As was mentioned above, our neck is responsible for a large range of motion. Due to a combination of poor functioning joints, tight muscles and tight ligaments, our range of motion often suffers when we are in pain. As you recover it is a good idea to turn your head in all 6 directions to stretch the muscles and ligaments.
4- The way you sleep will determine your progress
Often, when people experience neck pain, they sleep with multiple pillows to allow for the greatest amount of padding to the head. While this might feel better, it is rarely the best thing. Sleeping with just enough padding to keep the neck straight while you sleep can help the neck relax and lead to less tension in the morning.
5- Know when to see your chiropractor
There are things you can do at home when faced with neck pain but there is also a time when more needs to be done. Chiropractic works by “unlocking” fixated segments of the neck and allowing the muscles to relax and allow for a greater range of motion. Chiropractic care has been proven safe and effective in the treatment of neck and back pain.
Neck pain is often debilitating and complicated. While there are options for treatment at home, most neck pain cases should be evaluated at a chiropractic office. This ensures that the best care is applied and instruction on exercises and prevention can be customized to each individual case.