What a pain in the neck! You’ve probably said that to your kids at one time or another, but what do you do when you seriously DO have a pain in the neck?
This will depend on what the root cause of your pain is.
Generally speaking, a stiff neck comes from:
Weak neck muscles
Lack of movement for long periods of time (such as staring at a computer screen)
Misuse (such as staring down at a phone or tablet for long periods of time)
A pillow with poor support
Neck pain often includes a stiff neck, but not always. When it hurts to turn your head side to side or up and down, you will naturally return to a less painful position, but this is probably due to the pain and not stiffness. Of course, if this continues long enough, your neck will become stiff because you are afraid to move it!
How Did This Happen?
If you are rubbing your neck right now and asking yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place. Unless you were involved in some type of accident, such as a car accident or sports injury, most neck pain doesn’t happen overnight.
“What does it mean if I have a pain in my neck?” All joking aside, some of the more common reasons for neck pain include:
Tech Neck (or Text Neck from looking at cellphones)
Inflammation of connective tissue
You should have a trained professional determine the root cause of your neck pain or stiffness. Seeing your chiropractor is one of the first steps you should take to determine the cause of your pain.
Could It Be Serious?
We understand that neck and back pain seem really scary since these areas seem to be more vulnerable than others.
The good news is that neck pain is rarely anything serious. Can neck pain be a sign of cancer? Yes, but it’s rare. Less than 1% of those reporting shooting neck pain on the left side or neck pain in general have something serious, such as cancer or a tumor.
If you are concerned that your pain in the left neck area could be an artery dissection, you should know that this affects only 2 out of every 100,000 persons. If your neck pain is unusual, persistent, and is accompanied by a severe headache, go to your hospital emergency room or call 911.
What Kind of Doctor Should I See for Neck Pain?
Your local chiropractor is your best choice for any type of neck pain. Your local chiropractor can diagnose and treat the source of your neck pain all in one location.
Chiropractors are trained specialists in the entire musculoskeletal system of the body. Their expertise in this area makes them the perfect choice when you are suffering from neck pain, whether it’s from a pinched nerve in the neck, whiplash, text neck, or whatever the cause might be.
How to Relieve Neck Pain
You never realize how much you use your neck until it starts to hurt or becomes so stiff you can barely turn your head. Everyone has the same question, “How do I get rid of neck pain?”
While a diagnosis is important, there are some things you can do to get rid of neck pain. Let’s talk about the 9 little secrets about how to relieve neck pain so you can get your life back!
9 Secrets for How to Get Rid of Neck Pain
While everyday life isn’t very kind when it comes to our necks, if you have neck pain, some of the following secrets will tell you how to get rid of neck pain.
Secret #1- Neck Pain Exercises
Before trying any exercises to get rid of neck pain, you should talk to your doctor or chiropractor to be certain that there are not other, more serious issues.
Some of the best exercises for your neck include:
Side to Side Strengthener. Sitting in a comfortable position, move your chin as far as possible to the right, as if you are trying to look over your shoulder. You can place your hand lightly on your chin to help stretch your neck a bit further, but don’t push hard! A light touch is all that is needed. Hold this for 20 seconds, then repeat to the left. Do this 3 to 5 times for each side. This exercise strengthens the neck muscles as well as lengthens them.
Side Tilt. Again, sitting in a comfortable position, move your left ear towards your left shoulder. You can place your hand on the top of your head very gently for a little extra stretching power. Hold for 20 second, then repeat with the right side. Do this exercise 3 to 5 times for each side. This exercise keeps the neck muscles flexible.
Chin Tuck. Sit up straight with your back against a chair. Be sure that your ears are in line with your shoulders. Now, tuck your chin in towards the back of the chair. Hold for a count of 5, then release. This is great for your posture and strengthens the neck muscles. Do this exercise 10 or more times per day.
Shoulder Circles. This exercise strengthens and lengthens the neck muscles. Stand up and raise your shoulders up, then circle them forward 5 times, then backwards 5 times. You can also do individual shoulders for a change of pace. Do this exercise 3 to 5 times per day.
Core exercises that work your back, abdomen, and butt will also help relieve neck pain. When core muscles are stronger, the neck muscles don’t have to work as hard.
Secret #2-Pillows for Neck Pain (water pillows)
If you wake up in the morning with a stiff and/or sore neck, your problem might be your pillow. The best pillows for neck pain are:
Rounded memory foam pillows designed to stop snoring. Some memory foam pillows are too hard, however, and might end up causing you more neck pain! It’s hard to know what the right level of support for everyone is, so see if the store will let you return a pillow in case it doesn’t work for you.
Feather pillows. These are also great for the neck as they provide softness. Feather pillows have the opposite problem of some memory foam pillows in that they can sometimes be too soft! Many people find that a feather pillow that includes down will help give them the extra support they need.
Cervical support pillows. There are some specially made pillows designed for those with neck pain. These have rounded edges and an indentation in the center, so the head get support, but the neck gets a rest. One model even allows you to add or remove the cotton stuffing, so you can make it as hard or soft as you like!
Water pillows. Remember water beds? These pillows work in almost the same manner. These have traditional pillow covers but have a plastic reservoir inside that allows you to fill up the pillow as much or as little as you like. Unlike memory foam or feather pillows, water pillows never lose their shape or become flat. Filled with water, this pillow can weigh as much as 10 pounds, so if you like to move your pillow around, this won’t work for you!
Secret #3- Best Stretches for Neck Pain
Nothing feels better for sore neck muscles than a nice stretch, but how do you do that when your neck is so stiff and sore you can barely move it? Try the following stretches.
The Clasp. Stand up and place your arms behind your back, your right hand holding onto the left wrist. Use your right hand to gently pull the left arm down and away from you. Keep your shoulders down and you should feel the gentle pull in your neck. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat this as often as you like throughout the day.
The Pullover. Similar to the exercise above, stand up and put your arms behind your back, but this time clasp your hands together. Bend over at the waist and pull your arms up, as if you were going to pull them over your head. Keep your feet wide enough apart so you don’t lose your balance, or you can rest your head on a chair. Hold for 30 seconds.
Cross Body Shoulder Stretch. Sometimes, a stiff neck comes from tight shoulder muscles. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then bring one of your arms across your chest and rest your hand on the opposite shoulder. Put your other hand under the elbow of the crossed arm and gently pull on the arm. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other side. Try to do 5 of these per day and work up to 10 per day.
Another great way to stretch the neck and alleviate pain is by doing stretches in a heated pool.
If you have access to a pool, you can use it to get rid of neck pain. Try the following ideas:
Get in the water up to your neck and simply move your head from side to side and up and down
You can also squat in the water and move your head around gently
Try doing the breast stroke across the pool and back, slowly. This stretches the neck but is a gentle movement.
Don’t use the pool if the water is too cold
If you can, join a water aerobics class to help stretch your neck and keep your muscles in shape. Even plain swimming, such as doing the crawl, on a regular basis will help improve your neck muscles!
Secret #4-Yoga to Alleviate Neck Pain
How to get rid of neck pain? Yoga has got to be one of the best answers! Practicing yoga on a regular basis will not only relieve neck pain but will prevent it from occurring in many cases. Some of the best yoga poses include:
The Cat/Cow. This is a great warm up exercise that will relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. Get down on all fours like a cat (or cow) and arch your back up like cat’s do. Keep your head down. Hold and then lift your head up, making your back sway in, stomach towards the ground.
Thread the Needle. This twist really lengthens out the neck and spine. Get down on all fours and inhale as you bring your right arm up in front of you, then thread it through the space between your left knee and left hand, palm up. Your right ear will be down on the mat. Hold for one minute, then repeat with the right side.
The Rabbit Pose. This pose opens up the spine and releases tension in the neck. Kneel on the mat and bending at the waist, try to have your forehead touch your knees and hands grab your heels. If you can’t bend this far, go as far as you can.
The Fish. This pose works the neck in 6 different directions. Lie flat on your back, hands at your side, palms down. Point your feet and bring them together as you arch your back. Slide your hands under your back and push your heart towards the ceiling. Your head will arch back. Try to keep the crown of your head on the floor. Slide your head back down and bring your elbows back to your side.
If you are unsure about how to perform these poses or if this is your first-time trying yoga, it is a good idea to take a class or have an instructor show you how to properly perform these poses, so you get the maximum benefit from them.
Secret #5- Home Remedies for Neck Pain
While neck pain might be more common in today’s world, it’s certainly nothing new. People have been treating neck pain and stiff necks for centuries. How to relieve neck pain? We have listed some of the best home remedies below.
Essential Oils. Blending a few drops of the following essential oils and massaging them into your neck and shoulders will do wonders for a stiff, sore neck. Use a teaspoon of olive oil or sweet almond oil as a base, then add a few drops of lavender oil, peppermint oil, cypress oil, and basil oil. Mix well and massage into the sore areas twice a day for best results. Basil and cypress oil have antispasmodic compounds that will relax the muscles.
Apple Cider Vinegar. This is an ancient home remedy for reliving neck pain. Loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, apple cider vinegar reduces inflammation, which is a major source of pain. Simply soak a small cloth in the vinegar and wring it out. Place the cloth around your neck and leave it in place for 30-60 minutes. Repeat twice a day.
Ice Therapy. Ice is another way to numb the pain as well as reduce swelling and inflammation. Use an ice pack or place some ice cubes in a small cloth. Never place ice directly on the skin. Leave in placed for 10 minutes, then remove for 15 minutes. Repeat as often as you like.
Magnesium. Epsom salts aren’t actually salts but magnesium flakes. This mineral increases circulation and eases muscle tension. If you can, pour 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts into a warm bath and soak your neck and shoulders for 30 minutes. If you don’t have access to a bath, fill a bowl with warm water and a few tablespoons of Epsom salt. Mix until dissolved, then soak a small cloth in the mixture and wring out the excess. Place the cloth around your neck for 5 or 10 minutes. Repeat until the water is cold.
Secret #6-Chiropractic Massage
Is there anything more relaxing than a massage? You probably think that massage is a nice treat or something to indulge in when you’re on vacation, but did you know that chiropractic massage is perhaps one of the best ways to get rid of, as well as prevent, neck pain?
Sometimes, neck pain is due to tightness or misalignments in the shoulders, other times, it’s text neck or strained neck muscles. Regardless of the root cause, a massage, done under the direction of your local chiropractor, can turn things around in a minute!
Your chiropractor will direct the therapist to pay attention to problem areas and suggest particular types of massage that will be most beneficial to your situation.
Massage therapy has long been known to have proven health benefits, such as stress relief, improved circulation, and much more. Chiropractic massage will reduce muscle spasms, relax tense or tight muscles, and bring welcomed pain relief without drugs.
Secret #7-Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Inflammation is a good thing, but sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The immune system of the body uses inflammation to bring fresh blood and nutrients to a damaged area. Unfortunately, inflammation doesn’t always get the shut off signal. Chronic inflammation leads to pain and other diseases. There are a great many supplements that can help to relieve inflammation and stop the pain that goes along with it. Some of the best anti-inflammatory supplements include:
Curcumin. Part of the spice, turmeric, that makes such great tasting curries is also one of the best anti-inflammatories around. This spice is also one of the best studied and has been proven in numerous research studies to lower inflammation and reduce pain symptoms.
Fish Oil. One of the easiest supplements to find, fish oil has powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that also improves gut health and reduces the muscle damage that can occur after exercise.
Ginger. Another spice that many people think of only as a tea to soothe upset stomachs. Two of the components in this sweet spice, zingerone and gingerol, have been shown in studies to reduce the inflammation linked to several diseases, including breast cancer.
Green Tea. This natural anti-inflammatory has unique compounds, called ECGC, that help stop inflammation, even for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This special tea from Japan has numerous other benefits as well. You need to consume about 5 cups a day to get the full benefits but if drinking that much tea seems overwhelming, there are supplements to make things easier.
Of course, if you have neck pain that you want to be rid of today, supplements won’t help much as they will take a few weeks to start working, but if you have chronic neck pain due to a health condition, then these will be an advantageous way to get a leg up on neck pain.
Always speak with your doctor, chiropractor, or pharmacist before consuming any supplement, especially if you are taking prescription medication, to avoid a drug interaction.
Neck pain responds very well to gentle exercises and stretching, all of which a physical therapist can teach you. Since chiropractic care and physical therapy go hand in hand, don’t be surprised to find physical therapy modalities at your chiropractor’s office.
If your neck pain stems from an accident, exercises can help to restore range of movement and restore neck muscles to their former levels of strength.
Neck pain that comes from poor posture or other unhealthy habits are often discovered in therapy. Your physical therapist and/or chiropractor can demonstrate correct posture and improved work habits or cell phone habits to stop neck pain from reoccurring.
Secret #9-Comprehensive Chiropractic Care
Of course, you probably know about how chiropractic adjustments can put your neck and spine back into the proper position, but did you know that your chiropractor can offer you much more? What to do for neck pain? See your chiropractor sooner rather than later.
“What if I have pain in my neck and shoulder?” This is much more common than you might think and all the more reason to see your chiropractor. Shoulder pain can often pull the neck out of alignment since you will try to move your neck to compensate for your shoulder issue.
Your chiropractor will be able to see the whole picture and help alleviate both your shoulder and neck pain!
In addition to adjustments, your chiropractor can diagnose your condition and find the root cause, then make a treatment plan designed for your unique case. It might interest you to know that your chiropractor can also offer:
Cold laser therapy
TENS device (low level electrical stimulation of the muscles)
Advice on supplements or diet
Recommend exercises or other types of therapy
Show you how to improve your posture
Chiropractors are doctors who are specialists in the entire musculoskeletal system of the body. They can perform tests and exams to determine the cause of your pain and help you find relief from neck pain without drugs or invasive surgeries.
One study found that after a few adjustments, subjects with chronic neck pain had significantly less pain and this remained true when questioned about their pain 12 weeks and even 2 years later.
Did you know that here at Better Health Alaska, we offer secrets 6,8, and 9, as well as advice for secrets 7,1, and 3?
You can make an appointment by clicking here. With 3 secrets being offered (as well as advice for 3 more) in one place, think of us as a one stop no more neck pain shop!
What have you got to lose besides your neck pain?
A Few Tips for What NOT to Do to Get Rid of Neck Pain
This article is all about how to get rid of neck pain, but there is a few DON’TS that should be included here as well:
DON’T roll your neck around. This can grind the vertebra. Stretch from side to side or up and down but don’t roll your head
DON’T look down at your phone or tablet or anything for more than 10 or 15 minutes without taking a break
DON’T cradle a phone to your ear. If you must talk for long periods of time, use a speakerphone or invest in a handsfree headset
DON’T put a heavy purse, shoulder bag, or backpack on one shoulder. This overstresses the neck muscles
DON’T ignore a stiff neck or neck pain that doesn’t go away within 2 weeks or that gets worse quickly
DON’T drive if you can’t turn your head to look over your shoulder
DON’T sleep on your stomach. You will have to keep your neck turned one way or the other for hours and this guarantees a stiff neck in the morning.
We hope that you have found this article helpful and that it has answered some of your questions regarding how to get rid of your neck pain. Please feel free to share this article with others that you think might benefit from this information.
If you want to find out the root cause of your neck pain, please don’t hesitate to call our clinic for a same day appointment with a qualified chiropractor.