Neck pain: We’ve all experienced it in its unpleasantness! Sometimes the source of neck pain is easy to pinpoint: stress, poor posture, muscle strain, trauma, but other times the cause isn’t so clear, such as with abnormalities in the bone or joints. With its intricate structure and wide range of mobility, it is all too easy for the neck to experience pain and tension. The head weighs on average 10 lbs and is supported by a stack of seven small bones and held in place by 32 muscles. This complex structure moves more than any other part of the body, putting the neck at a risk for tweaks, injury, and pain. Here are some easy methods that will provide relief from neck pain – and prevent neck tension from building in the first place!
- Take a load off: Resting your neck is one of the simplest ways to give your neck muscles a chance to recover. Using a soft, plush pillow, lie on your back and keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Ice it: Numb pain and inflammation by icing the affected area for 15 minutes.
- Heat it up: Heat will increase circulation and is an effective relief for relaxing stiff muscles. Use a wet heated towel, warm water bottle or stand in a hot shower for 5-10 minutes.
- Relax: Stress can quickly trigger muscle tension. Identify what your emotional stress triggers are and think creatively about how to reduce your stress; such as abdominal breathing, meditation or altering your schedule.
- Use massage: If neck muscles are tense, massage will ease pain and provide temporary relief. Visit your massage therapist or find a willing partner to massage the affected area for 5 minutes with gentle pressure applied in small circular motions, and then for 10 minutes using firm pressure in long, downward strokes.
- Practice good posture: Poor posture is a typical trigger of neck pain. The head and spine balance in relation to gravity. When poor posture pulls the curve of the lower back forward, the upper back curves farther backward to compensate. In response, the neck curves forward as well in a strained position. Use a wall to help align your body properly and practice good posture. Stand with your heels several inches from a wall, your buttocks and shoulders should touch the wall, and the back of your head should be close to the wall.
- Strengthen abdominal muscles: Just as poor posture can cause the neck muscles to strain, poor tone in the abdominal muscles forces the upper back to curve farther backward and the neck to curve forward.
- Do neck exercises: Gentle range-of-motion exercises and isometric exercises can help ease and prevent chronic neck pain. Range-of-motion exercises help to stretch neck muscles. While sitting, slowly turn your help to the right as far as you can, hold, and return it to the center. Repeat to the left. Then drop your chin down slowly to your chest, hold, and return to center. Now tilt your ear toward your left shoulder, hold, return to center and then repeat on the right side.
- Work at eye level: If your neck pain increases throughout the work day, it’s likely your workstation or work habits are the cause of the problem. If possible, keep your work at eye level by changing the height of your chair, desk or computer screen.
- Visit your chiropractor: Often neck pain is associated with a bone or joint abnormality or subluxation. Your chiropractor will analyze x-rays and be able to realign the problem area through a quick adjustment if there is a vertebral subluxation causing your neck pain. Relief from neck pain is often felt immediately.
Beebe Chiropractic & Wellness Center is located in Tigard, OR within the Portland Metro area. Dr. Daniel Beebe cares for patients with sports, work & auto injuries, neck pain & lower back pain, headaches & migraines, chronic pain, scoliosis and more. For more information visit BeebeChiro.com or follow via Facebook or Twitter.