Neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck. And, when your neck is bothering you, it’s hard to focus on anything else.
You’re not alone. One in three people are affected by neck pain and, while it can go away, sometimes it becomes a chronic problem, according to research from Informed Health. The reasons your neck hurts may vary, from weak or overused muscles and wear and tear on the spine to whiplash, slipped disks and inflammatory conditions.
“Often it's not possible to find a clear cause of neck pain: The bones, tendons, and nerves in the cervical spine are usually too close together to be able to determine exactly what caused the symptoms in the first place,” the researchers write. “ … It's often particularly hard to determine the cause of the neck pain if it's chronic.”
No matter the reason for your pain, you’re likely aching for relief. Here are five ways you can soothe neck pain.
If you sit a lot for work during the day, take walking breaks, stretch, do whatever you can to get up. Add movement into your life outside of work, as well, with regular exercise that will strengthen your muscles, including weak neck muscles.
One option is yoga, which incorporates stretching, so sign up for a class or search for one of the many video tutorials online to guide you.
Adjust your workspace
If you’re looking up or down at a computer screen, tweak it so your monitor is at eye level. If you have an adjustable desk, use it to help you fix your posture, so you’re not hunched over all day.
Make the same types of adjustments to your chair. Additionally, when you use your smartphone, hold it in front of your face, instead of staring down.
Upgrade your bed
The firmer your mattress, the more support your neck gets, and people who can adjust the firmness of their mattress are the happiest, a Consumer Reports survey found.
“A firmer mattress also helps keep your body aligned, something your pillow can help with, too,” CR says. “Your neck should not be bent or twisted: It should form a straight line with your spine.”
Look for a pillow designed for neck support, and don’t overdo it with too many pillows, as they can put you out of alignment and make it difficult to move your neck when you need to.
Additionally, avoid sleeping on your stomach, as doing so doesn’t give you back support and could cause pain as you twist your head back and forth
Treat your neck
When you’re in serious pain, pop a low-dose pain pill, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs (i.e., Tylenol or Aspirin), and ice the area for a few days. If the pain lingers, use heat for comfort by sitting in a hot tub, taking warm showers, and using a heating pad when you’re at your desk or on the couch
Finally, ask a friend or family member to give you a gentle massage. It doesn’t have to be professional, as long as they’re rubbing the sore spots and not causing any sharp pain.
Talk to a doctor
If your neck is still in pain, it’s time to seek medical attention. You may be nervous about visiting a neck and spine doctor because, for over 40 years, bone rongeurs (similar to cutting pliers), and other conventional instruments have been the tools of choice for spinal surgery. Even surgeries deemed minimally invasive use rongeurs to access the spinal canal.
That’s why you should talk to the experts at Sonospine, which offers a procedure that lets patients avoid spinal fusion, with advanced surgical ultrasound energy to sculpt and dissolve bone. Sonospine uses a minimally disruptive ultrasonic device, the only tool which eliminates the use of rongeurs to gain entry to the source of your pain.
Less disruption means less time to a full recovery, fewer complications, faster pain resolution and a return to pain free mobility. Visit sonospinesurgery.com or call 888-957-7463 to learn more and schedule a consultation.