Managing Your Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common experience that can come in many forms including a stiff neck, sharp pain, dull muscular aches, headaches and restricted movement. Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a serious problem and it will resolve fairly quickly.
Many other people can experience chronic neck pain, lasting for several weeks or longer. This can be frustrating and usually requires treatment to prevent the condition from having a debilitating effect on your life.
Causes of Neck Pain
Your neck is made up of seven vertebral bones supported and connected by ligaments and tendons. These bones are separated and cushioned by intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers. As you get older, these discs can bulge or wear out, causing your joints to absorb the stress.
Neck joints can become stiff and cause spasms that weaken or tighten muscles in the shoulder or neck. This can alter your posture, strain adjacent joints and muscles, and ultimately result in a chronically sore neck. One stiff neck joint, weak muscle or tight muscle can have a dramatic effect on the rest of your body if not treated.
Managing Pain and Discomfort
Determining the best way to manage and treat your neck pain depends on the cause and location of the discomfort. There are a few strategies that can help to alleviate neck pain at home, including:
- A heat pack
Heat is an effective way to reduce muscle spasm, increase circulation and help improve range of motion. Place a heat pack wrapped in a tea towel over the affected area for 20 minutes as frequently as needed.
- Neck exercises
Light stretches and gentle active movement can loosen stiff muscles. Gently look up, down and side to side. Take care not to overextend and avoid doing anything that causes more pain.
A massage can soothe muscle tension and spasms, reducing pain.
- Better posture
If poor posture is causing neck pain, simple changes can help. This could involve sitting and standing straighter or changing a workstation to avoid repetitive and prolonged strain.
- Check your pillow
A pillow that is too flat or too thick forces your neck to bend in unnatural positions. Make sure your pillow is the size of the space between your ear and tip of your shoulder to keep your neck in a neutral position. Be sure to sleep on your side or your back (avoid sleeping on the stomach).
- Stay hydrated
Intervertebral discs are made of roughly 80 per cent water when we’re born. The discs require water to maintain their height and keep the spine aligned. As we grow older, the water ratio decreases and the discs degenerate. Strong hydration habits will prevent further degeneration, which may reduce neck pain.
When You Should See a Chiropractor
While there are ways to treat neck pain at home, it’s important to know when it’s time to go and see a chiropractor. Chiropractors specialise in treating neck pain and can provide a readjustment treatment that will resolve the problem or prevent it from becoming extremely severe. They can also give you personalised lifestyle advice to help you manage your neck pain.
See a chiropractor if:
- Neck pain or stiffness doesn’t improve after a few days
- You can’t look left or right without severe pain
- You are in severe pain or discomfort and rely on medication to get through the day
- You are experiencing numbness of tingling in your extremities as well as neck pain
- Your neck pain is the result of a physical injury or accident
- Your neck pain is worse in the morning then begins to feel better as the day goes on
If you’re experiencing severe or prolonged neck pain, make an appointment with Northbridge Chiropractic for a treatment in Perth. Our experienced and friendly doctors can offer you lifestyle advice and a personalised treatment plan.