You are trying to leave your bed in the morning, but finding it so difficult due to a stiffed and painful neck! Or all of a sudden, you are unable to rotate your head around due to aching neck pain! And you are looking for answers to “how to relieve neck pain”!
It is a very common lifestyle problem and can affect almost everyone on every other day. Factors like sitting with the wrong posture, wrong exercise, strain at physical work, wrong sleeping position – all can play their part in making your neck stiffed and painful.
Vertebrae extending from your skull to upper torso complete the structure of your neck, and there are cervical disks to absorb external shock between the bones. The bones, muscles, and ligaments of your neck provide support to your head and ensure proper motion. Any inflammation, abnormalities, or injury can impact your neck and make your day very uncomfortable.
Neck pain due to lifestyle errors is not something serious, but it can be if caused by contact sports, injury from fall, or whiplash, and needs proper treatment. Let’s find out more about neck pain.
Possible Causes of Neck Pain
There are various causes of neck pain, including:
- Poor sitting posture
- Sitting on working chair for very long without changing position
- Wrong movement of neck during exercise
- Sleeping in the wrong position
Your neck is almost always vulnerable to injury, especially if you are frequently involved in sports and other physical activities. Extra pressure on the neck while running, sudden wrong movement of the neck in the gym, or a car accident can severely affect your neck muscles and ligaments. In short, you may feel neck pain due to injury when your muscles and ligaments are forced to do the unwanted and unnatural movement.
- Fracture of neck bones due to a massive accident can be extremely dangerous and is usually coupled with serious damage to the spinal cord.
- Heart Attack
Prolonged neck pain can be one of the rare signals of possible heart attack, but it usually noticed with some other symptoms, including:
- Arm or jaw pain
- Shortness of breath
If you suffer from neck pain with these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention to at least discount the possibility of something really serious.
Also Read: How to Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain
Meningitis is the inflammation of your meninges – the protective tissues around your brain and spinal cord. People with meningitis may have complications like throbbing headache, often with severe neck pain.
Some other causes of neck pain are:
Pressure on the spinal cord due to conditions like spinal stenosis.
- Protrusion of the cervical disk due to injury or trauma.
- Degeneration of cervical disks also called “spondylosis”.
- Muscle pain all over the body in case of fibromyalgia.
- Inflamed and painful joints due to rheumatoid arthritis.
- The weakness of bones in case of prolonged and untreated osteoporosis.
- Congenital abnormalities
- Spinal cancer
- Abscesses due to severe infections
When to See a Doctor?
The symptoms of neck pain, including the painful movement of neck and shoulder, headache, muscle spasm, etc. are improved gradually with rest and other home treatments. But you should seek medical help in case of:
- The pain is severe
- Accompanied continuously be numbness, headache, weakness, or tingling
- Lump around the neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden and severe neck pain without an apparent cause
- Pain doesn’t improve for a few days
- Pain radiating to the arms or legs
- Difficulty while touching the chin to chest
- Dysfunction of bladder or bowel
If you suffer from an accident or fall, you must get proper medical help as quickly as possible
What are the treatments?
Treatment of neck pain depends on the cause and severity. Your doctor may ask for certain investigations, including X-rays, MRI, and CT scans, also, to complete medical history to find the exact cause(s) of pain. Depending on the results of medical history and investigations, you may get different types of treatments, including:
- Physical therapy like exercises and stretching
- Cold and heat therapy
- Pain medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Neck Color (especially in case of an injury)
- Corticosteroid injections
- Antibiotics in case if the pain is due to an infection
- Hospital treatment if the pain is due to heart attack or meningitis
Alternative therapies like:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS)
How to Improve Neck Pain at Home – Home Remedies for Neck Pain
Reaching out for painkillers is always not the best idea, as you can treat mild to moderate neck pain with very simple remedies and techniques. Here are some very effective and easy home remedies for neck pain.
- Massage: Massage has been effective in improving muscular pains and stiffness. And having a calming and relaxing massage is always a better option than painkilling drugs. And if you can add a few drops of essential oil to your regular massage oil, you can get rid of neck pain without much fuss. Massage warms up the stiff muscles, improves the blood circulation around the painful area, and reduces the pain within a few minutes.
- Getting help from your buddy or partner is the best idea. Otherwise, you can also book a physical therapy session with a physiotherapist or spa expert.
- Ice Packs: Ice packs are also very effective in healing mild to moderate pain. All you need to do is to crush a few pieces of ice and wrap them in a rubber bag. Put a clean towel or any other cloth on the painful area and apply the ice packs gently. You will feel the effects within a few minutes, and the pain will start fading away. Ice pack treatment is especially helpful when you have a painful neck due to sudden stress while playing or exercising.
- Heat Pads: You can find heat pads very easily at pharmacies or departmental stores. Apply the hot pads directly on the painful neck, and your pain will start fading away within the first couple of minutes. Heat pads work similarly to massage and reduce inflammation and pain by improving blood circulation. Just take care of the right brand and choose the appropriate pad.
- Exercise: Exercise can be one of the reasons for your painful neck. But it can also be effective to manage the pain very effectively as well. Some movements are proved very helpful in reducing neck pain. You can try moving your stiffed or painful neck in a circular motion or move it forwards and backward very slowly. If you feel comfortable, start with 8-10 slow motions in different directions. If the pain increases with a few movements, stop it immediately to prevent further damage to your neck. You can get in touch with a professional physiotherapist to ask for some effective neck exercises. Otherwise, talk to a doctor for proper treatment of neck pain.
- Warm Shower: Warm water shower is an ideal treatment for almost all types of body pains. And can be amazingly effective in case of neck pain as well. Have a warm water shower for five to ten minutes. The warm water will improve blood circulation and will help you feel better. And having a warm water shower in the morning is always a very good idea to have an energetic day and as well as restful sleep.
- Epsom Salts: Sprinkling some Epsom salts to your bathwater is another very good idea to manage neck pain. It is surely a treat to bath with Epsom salt in water. Thanks to its magnesium and sulfate contents, Epsom salt reduces muscular tension and rest. Also, they can improve the regulation of certain enzymes in your body and give you natural relief from neck pain.
How to relieve neck pain from sleeping wrong?
Neck pain from sleeping wrong is a common problem, and you can get rid of it by some over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. Self-massage and gentle stretching are also very effective to improve pain when it is in the initial stage. Start with very little, gentle stretching and increase with the flexibility and improvement in pain. If you are unable to move your neck due to excessive pain, you should book an appointment with your doctor.
What is the best position to sleep with neck pain?
Sometimes, pain can remain for a weak or two, and that’s not something to be worried about. However, little things can make a lot of difference, and one of them is your sleeping position for neck pain. Sleeping in an upright position is very effective in both back and neck pain. You can buy a horseshoe-shaped pillow for comfortable support for your neck.
Neck pain is very common, and you should go into the overthinking mode, especially in the initial days. Try these DIY remedies and techniques to get rid of the pain. And if you don’t find any relief at all even after a few days, we recommend you talk to your doctor to find the exact cause and proceed with the treatment accordingly.