Common remedies like pills, ice, or heating pads don’t always offer enough comfort for many people with chronic neck pain. Finding the most effective mix of therapies for your neck discomfort could take some trial and error.
Some fixtures of everyday life — like sitting at a desk, using a smartphone, and chronic stress — can make healthy living hard. These activities encourage us to be tense, sedentary, sleep-deprived, and maintain odd posture that almost always cause us pain.
Everyone can attest to the agony of waking up with a tight neck. It is nearly impossible to move the head even the slightest amount due to severe pain. Neck pain is inconvenient to live with and makes even the smallest chore appear difficult.
Most of us know that stress can show in our bodies when it causes neck pain. It can manifest itself in various ways, such as headaches or tense muscles.
Our bodies undergo intense, sustained stress when we encounter anxiety. When we are in a fight-or-flight situation, our bodies release hormones. As a result, the tension in the neck muscles from stress might increase anxiety.
Sometimes, neck pain may also be accompanied by numbness, a headache, stiffness, and trouble swallowing. Most often, pain is brought on by poor sleeping positions, tension, stress, or poor body alignment.
Science-Backed Solutions For Neck Pain
Given everything that can cause it, it’s not surprising that about 70% of adults have had, currently have, or will have neck pain. With a one-in-ten chance that any neck pain you experience will be severe and lasting, it pays to know what’s proven to help minimize and manage neck pain. Especially stress management tactics and environmental/habitual changes.
1. Be More Aware Of Your Body
Most neck pain starts where physical strain and emotional stress meet. So it makes sense that releasing physical and emotional tension is a good place to start managing it. That’s why practices that combine mindfulness and physical activity, like yoga, can noticeably diminish neck pain. What’s more, these kinds of neck stretches and strengthening exercises are critical to preventing neck pain in the first place.
2. Gently Extend Your Neck
If you wake up with significant neck discomfort, the first thing you should do is stretch a little. You can reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in a specific area by gently moving your head in that direction. You could nod a few times gently or tilt your head side to side to indicate “yes.”
Give your neck a little rest a couple of times each day. Your discomfort might improve if you gently stretch your tight neck. Try the following stretches as long as your doctor has not recommended against moving your neck:
- Ten times roll your shoulders backward, then ten times forward.
- Ten times, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Place your hands behind your head and hold that position for 30 seconds.
- Ten times on each side, gently lean your ear toward your shoulder.
3. Use a Hot or Cold Compress
Another quick fix for a stiff neck is to use a hot or cold compress. Your muscles will relax as you compress, and the blood flow to your neck will increase. Additionally, it will aid with pain numbing. Ten minutes at a time, apply a hot or cold compress.
For immediate relief, do this at least two or three times daily. However, remember that using a hot compress to stinging pain can worsen things if you are dealing with extreme pain. Instead, stick to applying ice.
4. Manage Your Emotional Stress
Stress stimulates your central nervous system to release hormones that tighten your muscles. This causes stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms. It follows, then, that stress management tactics that reduce tension and disrupt stress-induced nervous system overstimulation can help. Some tactics may reduce disabling neck pain by as much as 50%, including:
- Progressive muscle relaxation exercises;
- Aromatherapy using natural herbs, like lavender;
- Massage, especially with essential oils derived from healing plants; and
- Taking natural supplements for stress-relief.
5. Help Yourself With Healing Plants
You can use healing plants and natural herbs to manage neck pain whether it has a physical or emotional cause. Many different herbal remedies have some degree of scientific backing for their use as neck pain relievers. These natural supplements and topical salves contain healthful, plant-based ingredients like devil’s claw, menthol, and camphor. These ingredients relax muscles, soothe the central nervous system, and minimize pain.
6. Adjust Your Everyday Habits
People who suffer from neck tension tend to feel more stress, be less active, and rate their quality of life lower than people who don’t. That’s why it can help to prioritize stress relief, increase your healthful movement, and adopt better healthy living behaviors. Even simply choosing to roll your shoulders back while watching TV (to maintain better posture) can prove beneficial.
Massages are excellent for neck pain, whether you get one at a spa, ask your lover to do it for you, or purchase an electronic neck massager. The muscles surrounding the spine can be calmed by gently caressing and pushing in and around this uncomfortable spot.
7. Change Your Nighttime Habits, Too
Poor sleep hygiene can exacerbate stress and central nervous system overstimulation. What’s more, bad or insufficient sleep or sleeping in an awkward position can increase muscle tension and cause muscle strains. Investing in the right mattress and pillow can make a big difference in neck pain severity and duration. The same is true for taking natural supplements before bed that induces relaxation and promotes sleep.
8. Build A Better Environment
Some environmental changes — choosing a better desk chair, putting your computer screen at eye level, and using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse — can make a big difference. That’s because people often put their bodies in awkward positions to accommodate their workstations. Taking the opposite approach can prevent hunching, slouching, and craning your neck.
High-stress levels can cause neck muscles to tense up, resulting in neck pain. You can help treat and prevent neck pain by minimizing your stress. Try the following stress-relieving methods if you notice yourself becoming tight during the day:
- Take in music
- Practice meditation or take a moment to clear your mind.
- Take a brief break from demanding circumstances at work or home.
- Engage in a fun activity or hobby.
9. Try Acupuncture And/Or Chiropractic Treatment
It can be tempting to try to handle neck pain on your own. Yet it can help to consult experts in traditional medicine, holistic medicine, and the science of healthy living. For example, there is some empirical evidence that acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, mechanical traction, and electrotherapy can relieve neck pain.
There are numerous causes of neck pain. Neck discomfort interrupts your life and prevents you from doing the things you love, whether it’s a stiff neck, a muscular spasm, or a deep, throbbing aching.
Thanks to these practical cures, a little neck discomfort won’t force you to cancel an upcoming family gathering or a pleasant activity with friends.
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