Many adults will experience debilitating neck pain at some point in their lives. Several factors might be involved in causing neck pain, from stress and poor posture to injuries or other health conditions. While we all experience neck pain occasionally, when symptoms are debilitating and ongoing, you may have an underlying issue that doctors will need to address.
Chronic neck pain symptoms can include muscle tightness and spasms, headaches and a decreased ability to move your head. We’ll provide tips to help you cope with neck pain and reduce symptoms and provide information on when you should see a doctor for chronic neck issues.
1. Introduce Relaxation Techniques
Since stress and anxiety can cause tension in the neck and shoulders, it’s helpful to learn how to improve neck pain after a stressful day. When we experience a stressful event or a bout of anxiety, our muscles can often contract forcefully. This automatic reaction is a stress response against situations we perceive as threatening.
Even when you’re not in a threatening situation, anxiety can cause the body to uncomfortably tense up, whether from getting caught in traffic or watching the news. To reduce neck pain, try the following tips:
- Stretch the neck: Soothe neck tension by standing tall with your left arm at your side. Place your right hand on your head and pull to the right until the left side of your neck stretches. Hold the pose for 20 seconds and return to the center. Do the same thing on the left side of your neck and repeat these steps two to three times on each side.
- Self-massage: Locate the painful areas of your neck and apply circular motions to them with your fingers. Spend a few minutes massaging your neck to relieve neck pain and soothe tension.
- Apply a warm compress: Find the tightest spot in your neck and apply a warm compress to help you relax your sore muscles.
- Soak in the tub: Let the warm water relax your body. Add a few drops of aromatherapy oil for optimal relaxation after a stressful day.
2. Maintain Good Posture
Poor posture can create and exacerbate neck pain. That’s why it’s essential to keep your hips, shoulders and head in a straight line. Follow a few tips to maintain good posture:
- Don’t stay in one position for too long: Whether you’re at work or school, try not to stay in one position for too long. Get up, stretch and move around to avoid getting your neck stuck in an unhealthy position. You can also improve your posture by standing tall and straight with your shoulders back and your stomach in.
- Try yoga: Reversing poor posture can be difficult, though yoga can be an easy and helpful way to improve it. Yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, manage stress and improve your body’s alignment. Participating in yoga can be an effective treatment for neck pain.
3. Make Ergonomic Changes
Coping with chronic neck pain can be as simple as making adjustments to your workspace:
- Position your computer appropriately: Ensure you’re not straining your neck by placing your computer monitor at eye level.
- Use your phone’s hands-free function: Use a headset or earbuds to communicate, rather than holding your phone between your shoulder and neck.
- Prop your tablet on a pillow: If you use a tablet, ensure it sits at a 45-degree angle rather than lying flat on your lap.
- Keep your glasses prescription up to date: If you wear glasses, ensure your prescription is up to date so you won’t need to lean forward to see your computer better.
- Choose a neck-supporting chair: Investing in a high-quality chair with neck support can keep your head naturally balanced to reduce neck pain.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
One of the most significant issues with chronic neck pain is its interference with good sleep. This problem can go the other way, too — poor sleep can result in stress and worsened neck pain symptoms. Sleep problems can increase your risk of other conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain.
Employ the following tips to sleep better and alleviate neck pain:
- Invest in a quality pillow: Choosing a pillow with enough support and pressure relief can help you cope with chronic neck pain. The right pillow should be firm enough to keep the head at a healthy angle but soft enough to relieve pressure points. The National Sleep Foundation recommends buckwheat, latex, feather or memory foam pillows for a better night’s sleep. Find a pillow with the right shape and firmness for your preferred sleep position to get a better night’s rest and alleviate chronic neck pain.
- Avoid using too many pillows: It’s also recommended not to use too many pillows, as they can keep your neck from accessing its full range of motion. Try sticking to just one or two pillows for best results.
- Sleep on your back or side: Your sleep position is strongly related to your sleep quality. For neck pain, it can be helpful to sleep on your back or side to get the best sleep. You’ll maintain your spine’s natural curves by sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your side will keep your head neutral and your chin facing straight. Putting a pillow between your knees can also align your lower spine for pain-free sleep.
5. Seek Professional Treatment
Among the 30% of adults who experience neck pain, nearly half will experience some degree of chronic neck pain. While occasional neck pain is rarely anything to worry about, specific symptoms can signal a more severe problem you shouldn’t ignore.
It may be time to seek professional help if you experience the following symptoms along with your neck pain:
- Radiating pain
- Numbness of an arm or leg
- Weight loss
- Swollen glands
- Difficulty swallowing
Additionally, you should call a doctor if your symptoms persist longer than a week or if your pain worsens when lying down or wakes you up at night. Professionals can treat neck pain by aligning your spine, easing your movements and reducing compression.
Chronic neck pain can disrupt our daily lives and affect our physical and mental health. While you can employ techniques to manage your pain, you’ll appreciate many benefits of seeking treatment for your chronic pain.
For quality and compassionate care, trust Upper Cervical Chiropractic of New York. Our chiropractic services focus on long-term wellness and alleviating pain so you can get back to the activities you love. At Upper Cervical Chiropractic, you’ll appreciate professional treatment for your neck pain in a kind and welcoming environment.
To learn more about our neck pain treatments, contact us today.