Snap! Sometimes neck and shoulder pain strike suddenly, but other times the pain is more gradual in its onset, becoming chronic and negatively impacting your quality of life. Regardless of the cause of neck pain, it’s important to find ways to prevent, reduce, and eliminate unnecessary pain. Since the neck adjoins your head and spine, it’s critical to keep your neck and shoulders as healthy as possible.
A Simple Lesson in Anatomy
Neck pain can be extremely complex and difficult to analyze. That’s because your skull and brain are rather heavy structures that are balanced precariously on seven unique, highly complex neck vertebrae. With tightly bound ligaments, discs, and muscles all working together to provide support and health, it’s easy to see why even the most simple accident or practice of poor posture can cause aches and pains. Made up of 33 individual joints, your neck is highly mobile. But all of the different joints and ligaments are also prone to things like whiplash and strain.
Tips and Tricks for Easing Neck Pain
While both chronic and sudden neck pain can be debilitating and painful, there is hope for sufferers. Try any or all of these ten tips to help alleviate or even eliminate agitating neck pain:
Tip #1: Limit Technology
Technology is great. In fact, technology has allowed chiropractors and doctors everywhere to better understand the root causes of pain, as well as how to fix it. But when it comes to your body, technology is not your friend. Whether it’s hours spent sitting in front of the computer or playing on an iPad, technology has adverse effects on your neck. To prevent neck pain and alleviate existing discomfort, try cutting back on the use of technology.
When you absolutely need to use a screen, adjust the device to a comfortable viewing angle and take breaks every 15 or 20 minutes. When using a laptop or desktop computer, keep your shoulders relaxed and elbows close to your body. Hands, forearms, and wrists should be parallel to the floor.
Tip #2: Go for a Swim
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise you can participate in for back and neck health. It can reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and provide relief from pain. Water counteracts the pressure of gravity on your joints and vertebrae and encourages relaxation. For the best results, try entering a swimming pool until the water level is up to your neck. Then, slowly ease into gentle stretches. Next, squat in the water until the level reaches your chin and move upwards and downwards.
Tip #3: Care for Your Pillow
A lot of your neck’s health depends on how you sleep. In order to get rid of aches and pains, try using a feather pillow that easily conforms to your neck’s shape and weight. However, because feather pillows collapse over time, make sure you replace your pillow every year or so.
Tip #4: Watch Your Diet
While you may think that diet is a strange thing to mention when discussing neck pain, it is actually directly related. A healthy diet can reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and help you lose weight. All of these things positively impact your neck’s health.
By eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and eliminating fatty, processed foods, you can reduce the amount of inflammation in your body’s tissues and joints. This will leave you feeling better and more energetic. Improved circulation allows red blood cells carrying oxygen to more easily reach your joints and tissues, and this facilitates healthier joints. Lastly, lost pounds translate into less fatty tissue pulling down on your joints and messing up your alignment.
Tip #5: Visit a Chiropractor
Yes, you knew that a visit to the chiropractor was going to be included on this list. That’s because it is one of the best ways to address neck pain and provide relief. An experienced chiropractor can discover the source of your pain and manipulate the area in a way that will ease your discomfort. Be careful to avoid any chiropractor that won’t look at the whole picture, though. It is important to address everything that may affect your pain, from diet and rest to chiropractic care and physical medicine.
Tip #6: Ice and Heat
The combination of ice and heat applications can help reduce inflammation and encourage healing. You will want to start with ice, applying a cold pack to the source of pain for 15-20 minutes. Immediately after removing the ice, switch to some form of heat. This could be a heating pad or hot shower. This combination reduces swelling and improves circulation.
Tip #7: High Quality Office Chair
If you sit behind your desk all day, a high quality office chair can make a world of difference. The most important thing you can do in this situation is buy a customizable chair. You should be able to adjust the backrest, height, and angle. All devices – like keyboards, phones, mice, etc. – should be within easy reach. Also, make sure the top of your monitor is at eye level. This keeps you from twisting and craning your neck.
Tip #8: Exercise Regularly
Key attributes of a healthy neck are strength and flexibility. To develop these, you need some sort of regular exercise routine. Whether it’s yoga, weight lifting, or resistance exercises, pick something and stick to it.
Tip #9: Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
Even if you don’t do yoga, it is important to incorporate regular, daily stretching into your lifestyle. Your neck, back, and joints need flexibility in order to have full range of motion.
Tip #10: Get Some Sleep
Your entire body needs adequate amounts of sleep and rest to recover from daily life. This includes your neck, back, and shoulders. If you aren’t getting your recommended eight hours of sleep, you aren’t doing your neck any favors. Commit to getting sleep and you’ll quickly feel the benefits of reduced aches and pains, more energy, and overall well-being.
Graham Rehabilitation & Wellness Center
At Graham Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, we have served the downtown Seattle community since 1992. If you are looking for exceptional care, state-of-the-art facilities, unparalleled expertise, and compassionate attention, you’ve found it at Graham Rehab. Contact us today and we’ll get you on the road to relief. We can be reached at 206-622-9001.