So, you want to know how to get rid of neck pain huh? You’ve come to the right place! Prolonged neck pain is a common problem, more common than you may think. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a leading national public health institute of the United States, 20 % of Americans experienced neck pain within the past three months.
What causes a sore neck?
There are many reasons for severe neck pain. In today’s world the most typical cause behind frequent neck pain are weak, tired, and overstretched muscles induced by bad posture. This is not surprising as so many of us spend most of our time staring down at our smart phones or gazing at our laptop and desktop monitors. You can get frequent stiff neck, if you have to drive to work, and being behind the wheel, when your neck is in a static extended position and your arms are doing all the work has a similar negative effect. Poor sleeping position is another reason your neck may become stiff and painful. Difficulty falling asleep due to neck pain followed by a lack of sleep will only make things worse. Sometimes a heavy load can put excessive stress on the shoulders, causing a strain in one of the neck’s muscles. This is another one of neck pain reasons. Chronic stress and anxiety may build up dramatic muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and back, causing constant neck muscle pain.
When these stiff neck causes occur day after day, they accumulate and can cause your neck joints to shift. If you neck muscles are weak and you try moving your head, one of the displaced joints can catch on something, either a muscle or a nerve, or sometimes both. In this case you feel instant pain and experience a protective muscle spasm. This feeling when you can’t move is actually a safety mechanism, where your body is trying to prevent you from getting hurt even more. Read below to find out about the symptoms of neck pain and how to get rid of neck pain at home.
Types of Neck Pain
There can be substantial variation in your symptoms. The pain is most often felt on one side of the neck, however sometimes you can get bilateral neck pain. The pain can be anything from mildly annoying to agonizing, when you will not be able to move at all. Your symptoms can be localized to a single painful area and will often disappear on their own within several weeks or even days. However sometimes the pain will become permanent and can irradiate into other parts of your body, such as head, arms, and shoulders. The onset of neck pain can vary. Your symptoms may develop gradually over time, occurring only at the end of the day and worsening over time. Sometimes neck pain starts right after an injury, such as a car accident, a sports injury, or you can simply get neck pain from sleeping wrong. It other cases this reaction can be delayed, beginning hours or even days after a traumatic event, sometimes getting worse with time. It is not uncommon for neck pain to start for no obvious reason. Some frequent symptoms that can accompany neck pain include the following:
Stiff neck: most of the time you will have a stiff neck for days, accompanied by pain and difficulty turning your head from side to side. It is not unusual to have stiff neck on one side.
Acute pain: stabbing and stinging sensation can be located in one specific spot, oftentimes in the lower neck.
General pain: a tender area on the neck which is painful, however this pain is not sharp.
Referred pain: a burning sensation that spreads from the neck along one of the nerves into your shoulders, arms, and wrists with varying intensity. If it feels like you have a neck and shoulder strain, the pain may be actually referred. Some people may even experience a combination of a stiff neck and back pain.
Numbing, weakness, or tingling: these pins-and-needles symptoms usually radiate beyond the neck into your upper extremity. It is not common that the pain is felt in both arms, as it’s usually one arm that’s affected. You can also have difficulty with gripping and picking up objects with your fingers.
Headache: oftentimes nerves and muscles in your head can be affected by a neck problem. Tight neck muscles can cause a tension headache, whereas a jammed occipital nerve in the neck will produce occipital neuralgia, referring the pain into the scalp and the sides of the head. In today’s sedentary lifestyle a stiff neck headache is a common phenomenon.
How to get rid of neck pain fast – Top 7 Strategies
If you want to know how to treat a stiff neck, the below guidelines are for you. Neck pain is likely to improve after several days or a week. Nevertheless you can alleviate even chronic neck muscle pain and stiffness with simple household remedies and lifestyle modifications. If your symptoms are accompanied with a high fever, or it has been several week sand you saw no improvement, see a doctor right away. However if your pain is not excruciating and was not caused by a severe injury, follow these easy self-care guidelines on how to get rid of neck pain for good:
If movement causes you more pain, to get rid of neck pain it is vital to avoid these activities. Go easy on your neck for several days and the damaged structures will repair on their own. This option can be used to effectively treat most neck muscle strains.
Hot & cold therapy
A cold application can have an anti-inflammatory effect, numbing the pain and decreasing the swelling. If you use it correctly it can serve as a great neck ache remedy. If an injury occurred it is good to apply an ice pack, as low temperature will cause the blood vessels to constrict, tapering the blood flow, and preventing further injury and inflammation. You can use a cold pack, a bag of ice, or just a bag of frozen peas for the first 72 hours after an injury (acute stage).
Applying heat during the acute stage is not recommended, as it will increase local circulation and add to swelling. After 3 days the inflammation will wane and you can try applying heat in order to relax stiff muscles. Use a heating pad, a hot compress, or let warm water run over your neck for at least five minutes. Make sure you do not fall asleep with an ice pack or a heat pack in order to avoid frostbite and burns. To learn more about how to get rid of neck pain with ice or heat read this guide.
Perform slow neck exercises
A routine of neck exercises can be a highly effective stiff neck treatment. This can cause discomfort at first, but will eventually ease the pain. To perform stiff neck exercises rotate your head very slowly in a circular motion, stretching the painful muscles. Nod your head towards your chest and backward towards the ceiling. Tilt your head from one shoulder to another. Turn your head and look to the left, then look to the right without turning your body. At the end perform gentle shoulder rolls. Do each one for several minutes and stop with the exercise if you feel any pain. The more you move your neck, the more your range of motion will improve. Yoga for neck pain may also be a beneficial stiff neck remedy.
If the pain has been persistent for a long time, a massage can calm stiff muscles, decreasing the pain and easing the spasms. It’s a good method if you want to heal a stiff neck. You can often benefit more from self-administered trigger point therapy than you can from a massage therapist. A good session will improve blood flow and will allow you to get better sleep.
To know more about how to get rid of neck pain by targeting muscle knots read this guide. If you can’t massage yourself because of stiffness, ask a friend or visit a massage therapist, making sure to consult with your physician beforehand.
Simply changing your posture may relieve a stiff neck. This includes your sleeping position as well as the way you sit at work. If you think you have stiff neck from sleeping, and you usually sleep on your stomach or on your side, try sleeping on the back, making sure you have a comfortable orthopedic mattress and a special pillow for neck pain. At the office try positioning your monitor, keyboard, and chair, so that your body is aligned in a more natural position. If you spend a lot of your time over your smartphone, either try bringing this activity to a minimum or hold the phone higher towards the level of the eyes, giving your neck a better alignment.
The idea behind neck traction is to take away the pressure by increasing disc spaces between the vertebrae and stretching out tight muscles and tissues that may be impinging blood vessels and nerves. You can achieve this with either a special neck traction device, such as an inflatable collar, or just with a simple towel. In order to do this make a sling from a lengthwise folded towel and a piece of rope by tying the rope to one end of the towel, looping the rope around a door knob and bringing it back and tying to the other end of the towel. Now lie down on the floor and rest the back of your head in the sling. Stay in this position for several minutes and this will alleviate you stiff sore neck.
You can buy medication, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen at your local drug store. Some of them can reduce the inflammation, while others prevent pain signals from getting to your brain. Be careful with any drugs and make sure not to overdose.
Most cases of neck pain do not require a visit to the doctor, as the pain usually goes away with home treatment. However if you still feel it after 2 weeks, you should see your physician in order to look for other things that may be causing your symptoms.
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