See a chiropractor
Of course I am biased with this one and I had to put this in here. My approach to dealing with someone with a sore neck is to find out why it is sore. If there is underlying joint dysfunction and nerve irritation, all of the things you do below will likely be short term fixes. Yes there may be a muscle in spasm, but why is the muscle in spasm? This is my job as chiropractor to find this out. If we can find out why the neck is sore, the following tips will work better and likely give you longer lasting results.
For this position, you simply lay on the floor with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and have your lower legs resting on a chair or couch. This position is great as it takes a lot of pressure off of the lower back. It is also great for upper back and neck as it removes a lot of the postural problems we have (think rounded shoulders and forward head carriage). To make this extra special you can apply heat to the neck at the same time by laying on a wheat bag. This will do two things:
- The heat will help reduce muscular pain (see the next point).
- The shape of the wheat bag under the neck will help reduce some of the forward head posture.
There is a lot of debate about using ice or heat. Please read my blogs on this topic here and here. I discuss in detail what is best to use and when. My general rule of thumb is if you hurt yourself use ice for the first 24 hours. After that use heat. The other key point is that if you use ice, only apply it for 10 minutes at a time. If you use heat, apply it for 20 minutes at a time to get the best results. The reasoning for this is explained in the blog post linked above. With neck pain, I find that heat is usually the go to.
Posture is often one of the most common causes of back and neck pain. With the neck, forward head posture is one of the main causes. This is when your head is forward of your shoulders. Ideally your ears should line up with the shoulders and in most people this is not the case. If your neck is sore, be careful with your computer setup, make sure the screen is set to the right height so you are not looking down all the time. This goes with looking at your phones and tablets. Another common cause of forward head carriage is slouching on a couch. When you slouch on a couch and slide your pelvis forward, your head will naturally move forward in order to continue looking straight ahead.
Whilst your neck is sore, be vigilant with your posture whilst you do the other tips in this post. You will speed up the healing process if you can reduce aggravation to the area.
Gentle neck stretches are a great way of easing some neck tension. I like to do them in the shower as you are already nice and warm and more loose and limber. To start off, I always suggest to take you neck through its normal ranges of motion. Looking downwards, looking up, turning the head to the left, turning the head to the right, left ear to left shoulder and right ear to right shoulder. Holding each of these for 10 seconds is usually enough. I am not a fan of pulling on the head to ‘increase the stretch’. If you are not in the shower, you could try doing them after you have applied the heat that was discussed above.
This sounds silly, but pain relief is good at relieving pain. Ibuprofen and Anti-Inflammatories are good at easing pain, but they don’t necessarily fix the problem. If you do take pain relief, these other steps are still important to try and get to the cause of the problem, rather than just make it feel better. There are other natural things you can try to ease the pain. The right levels of Omega 3s, Magnesium and Turmeric are some natural ways to reduce pain. I am not an expert in this field so make sure you ask your local health shop for more options. The more natural the product the better it will be in my opinion.
So there are a few simple tips that I have found to be important as well as effective for people who are suffering from a sore neck. Please try them and see what you think. Of course if you are having ongoing problems, it is well worth having that proper assessment to see why the pain is there in the first place. For more information about this or to make an appointment, contact us here. Your body will thank you for it.