How to Manage Your Neck Pain at Home
- Use ice and heat
- Cold can reduce swelling to an area that is inflamed. Place a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel on your neck. Heat can help relax tight stressed muscles. A good rule of thumb is alternating 20 minutes heat and cold, repeating as much as you can.
- Check your pillow
- Make sure you use a firm pillow that is supporting your neck correctly and sleep on your back or side. If your pillow is too flat, it forces your neck to bend in an unnatural position. After a night’s sleep, the muscles in your neck may be so stretched from the bad positioning, you’re guaranteed to have a rough morning!
- Do gentle neck exercises
- Light neck stretches can help to loosen stiff muscles. Gentle movements from side to side within your pain-free range can be beneficial. Be careful not to over-extend your neck beyond its normal limits, or you may do more harm than good.
- Avoid driving if you’re unable to turn your neck past your shoulder
- Driving in traffic, especially in heavy traffic or when you’re backing up, requires you to look over your shoulder to see behind you. This restricted ability to look over your shoulder and need to turn your neck quickly from side to side may overstretch your neck and cause severe pain. So it’s best to avoid driving until your neck’s normal movement is restored.
When Should You See a Chiropractor for Neck Pain?
While there are several things you can do at home to help manage your neck pain, it’s important to know when it’s time to see a chiropractor to resolve your neck pain.
Chiropractors specialise in treatment for neck pain, amongst other musculoskeletal problems. After a thorough history, physical exam and x-rays if required, they help to restore motion to stiff joints through a chiropractic treatment plan that usually includes chiropractic adjustments, specific neck exercises and lifestyle advice.
Signs you need to book that chiropractic appointment:
- You have neck pain! The sooner it is treated the sooner you can be pain free and enjoy your regular activities
- Your neck pain or stiffness does not improve after a few days
- You cannot look to the right or left without neck pain
- You are regularly using over-the-counter pain medications just to make it through the day
- You’re worried that your neck pain may have a serious cause
- Your neck pain started in the neck but now includes numbness or tingling in your hands or wrists
- Your neck pain started within a few days of a car accident.
- You have experienced any trauma, no matter how minor (car accident, fall, sporting injury)
- Your neck pain is worse when you first wake up, and then eases as the day progresses
Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough consultation and examination – asking you questions about your symptoms, the history of your neck pain, what aggravates it and what eases it. During the exam your chiropractor will check to see how well you move your neck, and will check for neck tenderness or numbness and tingling in your arms or hands.
Through chiropractic treatment your chiropractor can restore normal motion in your neck and get you pain free again.
What Causes Neck Pain?
- You consistently or repeatedly have poor posture (such as sitting hunched over your phone all day)
- Your neck is stuck in an awkward position for an extended period of time (such as painting your ceiling)
- You regularly sleep on your stomach or use a flat pillow under your head
- Your neck is forced beyond its normal range of motion (like if you fall off a ladder or get whiplash in a car accident) Whiplash is one of the most common injuries to the neck. It occurs when the neck experiences a sudden movement forward and backward or from side to side. This sudden movement can overstretch and possibly damage the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
- Your neck is made up of 7 vertebrae, and between each of the vertebra are nerves and discs (gel-like cushion between each vertebrae). If one or more of your vertebra are not moving as well as they should be, they can crowd or “pinch” the nerves that run between them causing neck pain.
How Can Neck Pain Be Prevented?
- Maintain good posture when your sit and stand
- Move your computer monitor to eye level
- Take micro-breaks throughout your day, especially if your job requires that you sit for long periods of time – or if you must take a long ride in the car
- Use a firm pillow to support your head and sleep on your side or on your back
- Learn to recognize your early signs of stress and take steps to relieve stress in your life on a regular basis
- Do regular exercises throughout the day and each week to maintain proper movement in your neck and your body
Come see us as Pure Healthcare so you can look left and right again! Receiving chiropractic treatment for your neck pain will ensure you can be pain free and enjoy your lifestyle activities once again.