Relieving Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common pains that a person will experience throughout his life.  There are very few people who will not experience neck pain. 

What Causes Neck Pain

There are several causes of neck pain, ranging from simply sleeping in the wrong position to poor posture and stress to more severe conditions such as cervical spine tumors.  

For the sake of this post, we will cover  the most common neck pain. These are caused by incorrect posture, sleeping in the wrong position, stress and other trauma or injury.  

Using Exercise To Eliminate Neck Pain

The treatments and exercises described below are very effective in relieving neck pain.  Although the treatments and exercises usually take time to eliminate pain, these treatment are natural and have none of the  side effects such medications or having steroid injections can cause.  Furthermore, these can be done at home.  

 

5 Ways to Eliminate Neck Pain

  1. Gentle stretching  – Many people mistake stiffness for pain. When we address the stiffness, the pain instantly goes away.  Gentle stretching is an effective way to relieve stiffness or spasms of the muscles.  Start by sitting comfortably on a chair.  Put one hand over the head and onto the opposite temple and gently pull the head to the side of the hand.  The opposite hand can hold on to the edge of the chair to increase the stretch.  Do 30-second-holds on each side for 2-3 times.

  2. Range of motion exercises –  Having neck pain limits the movement of the neck.  This can sometimes make it difficult to turn or bend your head to the side.  Preventing loss of range of motion during the time you have neck pain will greatly contribute to your function.  Chin tucks and neck rotations with nods are effective in increasing range of motion. To do chin tucks, simply lie down on your back with a pillow under your head.  Now, focus on the back of the neck instead of your chin.  Push down on the pillow with the back of your neck, this in turn will make you do a chin tuck.  Simply put, you are trying to make a double chin.  Hold it for 1-2 seconds and then go back to starting position.  Do 30-50 times several times a day.  For the neck rotations with nods, sit comfortably on a chair and straighten your neck.   Look to one side as far as possible without pain.  As we say in rehab, “stop where the pain starts.”  After determining the start of your pain, nod by trying to touch the shoulder with your chin and then do the opposite side.  Do 30-50 times several times a day.

  3. Strengthening of the muscles of the neck –  Strengthening the muscles of the neck helps to prevent future neck pain.  To strengthen the muscles of the neck, simply sit down comfortably on a chair.   Put one hand on your temple and press.  Prevent your head by being pushed by stiffening your neck muscles.  Hold for 10 seconds and do 10 times, 2 sets each.  Do on the other side.  Now do the front and back by putting one hand on your forehead and the back of your head, respectively.  Again, hold for 10 seconds and do 10 times, 2 sets each.

  4. Heat vs. cold –  As a general rule, ice is used for acute pain, whereas heat is used for chronic pain.  Acute pain is from 3-6 months after the injury, and chronic pain is 6 months or more.  Use an ice pack or heating pad (both are available at CVS, Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.) depending on your type of pain.  Put them directly on your neck for 10-15 minutes and relax!

  5. Consult your doctor and/or your physical therapist – If you do not see any improvement in your pain for more than 7 days, consult your doctor for further tests.  You can also go to your physical therapist to consult.  In the state of Maryland, physical therapist have direct access, meaning you can go directly to your physical therapist without getting a referral from your primary care doctor.

    Rommer graduated as a Physical Therapist at St. Jude College in the Philippines in 2003.  He is a passionate PT who is always keeping up with the most current, best evidence-based treatments available.  He is passionate about physical therapy and is always striving to improve his craft.  His treatment method focuses on his patients most pressing issues while providing pain relief and improvement of daily activities.  He utilizes manual therapy techniques and exercises in his treatments.  Rommer is dedicated to giving his patients the best one-on-one, quality care he can provide. Rommer currently lives in Severna Park, MD,  is married to another PT and the dad of 2 boys.