What is the best treatment for neck pain?

Neck or cervical pain can sneak up on you and stick around. It can also subside for reasons that seem unrelated to your activities. Once you’ve had a bad bout of neck pain, you will do whatever it takes to avoid a recurrence. Your neck pain may stem from an accident, poor sleeping positions, a heavy handbag, or from simply sitting with your head turned too far in one direction for a time. You may also just have woken up with a sore neck. Chiropractic care is an ideal way to treat chronic neck pain. However, if you’re waiting for your next chiro appointment and wake up in pain or feel neck tension at the end of the day, the ideas below can reduce your discomfort until your next treatment.

Reduce Inflammation, Increase Flexibility

Getting inflammation under control is a very good start. You can treat inflammation by

  • icing for short amounts of time
  • drinking plenty of water
  • NSAIDs
  • gentle massage

When your neck is sore and tight, it can be tempting to apply heat. However, heat on tissue that is already inflamed can create even more inflamed tissue, which will add more pressure to the nerves that are already irritated. To ice with the least amount of discomfort, use a timer and ice for ten minutes every two hours to start. If you can work up to twenty minutes, do so.

To keep the ice pack in place, you may need to lay down on your stomach with your chin over the edge of the bed. Put a fabric barrier between your skin and the ice pack to avoid the pain of frostbite. You can also create a flexible ice pack by folding a kitchen towel and placing it flat inside a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Add water slowly until the towel is wet but not saturated and seal it.

Once it’s frozen, you can use it to chill the inflamed tissue in your neck for a short period of time, then re-freeze it for the next application. As the inflammation comes down, your pain level will likely drop. As your pain level drops, it’s time to start stretching and loosening up the muscles in your neck. Neck motion has to manage the weight of your skull, which is 12 to 14 pounds of fused bone.

Part of the reason that whiplash is so common is that the weight of the skull can put an extreme amount of stress on your neck with very little motion. Before you start using your skull weight to stretch your neck, make sure you loosen up your upper back. While sitting or standing as straight as possible, bring your palms to your shoulders with your elbows pointing straight in front of you. If this is comfortable, gently pull the right elbow across your chest with the left hand until you feel a relaxed stretch in your upper back for 5 seconds. Now is not the time to stretch to the point of burn; you just want to loosen things up. Switch sides and balance the stretch. Point your elbows forward again and let your forehead drop slowly

Stop if you feel a pull or stress. Come back to the center and put your hands down. Gently lower your right ear toward your right shoulder, then return to the center and then to the other side. When you’re ready to stretch back, pay special attention to your jaw. Many people who struggle with chronic neck pain also have a lot of jaw tension. As you stretch back, make sure your mouth is open. If you can, think of unhinging your jaw as a snake will when eating something too large.

Let your jaw drop down and back, as though it is sliding down the front of your neck. Bring your head back to the center. Getting on top of or in front of neck pain is critical to maintaining a good quality of life. Your chiropractor can help you track your symptoms to note when your pain is most severe and what may be triggering your flare-ups while they work to bring you back into alignment. We can help, call now 205-637-1363.

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