Every wake up from a deep sleep, suddenly unable to move your neck? Were you in a car accident and suffered from whiplash? Do you spend hours a day slouched in front of your computer? Did you injure yourself during sports? Unfortunately, whether you are active or not, you are at risk for experiencing neck pain. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 20% of Americans say they experienced some form of neck pain within the last three months.
Thankfully, there are some home remedies that can be used to alleviate neck pain -- as well as some tips on preventing it in the first place.
Overcoming Neck Pain
If your neck pain is what you would consider manageable, meaning you did not face a serious accident or trauma, try these tips to get your typical range of motion back and ease the pain:
- Apply ice. As tempting as it may be to apply warmth to the pain, the best course of action is to start with ice. The role of the ice is to reduce any swelling or inflammation in the neck area, and it can also relieve cramping.
- Use heat. After the first 72 hours of icing and neck pain still remains, use heat to further reduce the pain and symptoms. Whether in the shower or using a heating pad or hot compress, the heat will relax the muscles and afford relief from pain.
- Take some pain meds. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen are both proven to relieve neck pain. Read the labels and be sure to take the appropriate dose.
- Move and stretch. As much as you can, keep moving -- however, it's best to avoid any type of exercise or motion that requires you to move your neck too much. Stretch out the neck area by rotating your head, placing your ear toward each shoulder, and moving the head forwards and backwards. But be gentle so as not to exacerbate the pain.
- Use acupressure. Acupressure is can be applied to improve blood flow and nerve response to the neck. With the Q-Flex, you can even do this yourself. Use Q-Flex at the highest point of the shoulder muscle (1-2 inches from the side of the lower neck), a half inch below the base of the skull (on the muscles a half inch outward from the spine), the indentation at the base of the skull (1-2 inches behind the earlobe), and underneath the base of the skull (in each indentation, about 2-3 inches apart).
- Proper sleep. Try to sleep as flat as possible on a firm surface. Consider a neck pillow or forgo the pillow altogether to even out the spine, allowing you to sleep completely flat.
Preventing Neck Pain
Once the neck pain is healed, now is the time to ensure you don't experience any tightness moving forward. Especially if you drive for long periods of time or sit in front of the computer, take as many breaks as possible to stretch out your neck and back. Also, be sure you're sleeping properly. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can torque the neck and back muscles. Instead, sleep on your side or back to ensure proper alignment.
If you find that your neck pain does not go away after trying the techniques outlined above, it's best to seek professional medical help -- from your general practitioner, a massage therapist or a chiropractor -- to determine if there's a more serious issue causing the neck pain.