Sure, you may think your boss, your spouse or your significant other is the biggest pain in your neck, but the fact is, your aching neck is caused by more than nagging. Most neck and shoulder pain is due to overworked or strained muscles, and if you ignore your pain and let it go untreated, there???s a good chance it???s just going to get worse. Here are some relatively simple solutions you can try to help relieve those aching muscles:
- Rest your neck (a.k.a., Quit your job ??? your computer is killing you). One of the best ways to reduce pain is to relax your neck muscles. If you can, spend some time lying down while your neck is supported by a comfortable pillow. Meditation and yoga can also help. If your work requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, make sure your chair is supportive and your computer screen is at eye level. Also be sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day.
- Massage. Sure, you could pay someone for a massage, but this is about HOME remedies, and unless you live with a massage therapist, you???re going to have to rely on the kindness of your spouse or partner. They may balk at first, but remind them that since massage only uses their hands, they???ll still have their mouths free to nag. Take a hot shower or bath first to loosen your muscles, and then have your partner use their fingers to gently rub your neck and shoulders using small, circular motions, followed by long, downward strokes. Use lotion to reduce friction. Done correctly, massage can relieve pain by releasing trigger points or taking pressure off the cervical spine. Done incorrectly, it can make your pain worse.
- Heat it up. Not sure whether to use ice or heat on your aching neck? Then you obviously haven???t been reading my blog. (I would tell you to hang your head in shame, but since you have an aching neck, I???ll give you a break. This time.) Heat, people, HEAT. Why? Because heat improves blood flow, and that means your neck gets more of the nutrients that it needs to heal. Ice constricts the flow of blood, and that means fewer nutrients and lower levels of life-giving oxygen are reaching your cells, so repair is slowed.
- Exercise. Specifically, exercise your stomach muscles. Huh? That???s right, by keeping your abs toned, you can keep your upper back from curving backward too much, which in turn stops your neck from having to jut forward to maintain balance.
- Stretches. See this video for instructions on how to stretch the muscles that are responsible for most neck pain.
- Patch it. Pain relief patches can help provide some relief for neck pain, but if you haven???t used them before, just know that some people are allergic to the adhesive these patches use. If the area beneath or around the patch becomes itchy, take it off, and always wash off the adhesive after use, whether you???re allergic or not. Also, the relief is short-term, so once the effect wears off, you may not feel much better than when you first put the patch on. You can also use creams like Bengay?? or Tiger Balm instead of a patch, but they can smear and get on your clothes, so reserve them for hen you???re relaxing in sweats at home.
- Hot water. If you???re lucky enough to have access to a Jacuzzi, please invite me over. Ba-DUM-bum. OK, no really, if you have access to a Jacuzzi, directing the jets toward your sore neck muscles can really help with releasing tension and reducing pain. If you???re like most of us, you have a vertical Jacuzzi ??? better known as a shower. Stand under your showerhead, turn the temp to as hot as you can stand it and let ???er rip. Moist heat is a better choice than dry heat. When you???re done, follow up with a hot water bottle or heating pad.
- Traction. You know those funny-looking collars whiplash victims wear on television sitcoms? Those are soft traction collars, and they???re designed to gently stretch the neck and keep it stable. There are also home traction systems that attach to the top of a door and use a pulley system to gently stretch your neck, increasing the space between cramped vertebrae. Don???t mistake this as an endorsement, because personally, they seem a little scary to me, especially if you aren???t trained in using them.
So that???s it: Your comprehensive list to home remedies for neck pain. We left out the one about ???make your partner stop nagging??? because we know how it is ??? they just never will learn.