Get Relief From Your Neck Pain
It’s not normal to have a sore neck on an ongoing basis. So, if your sore neck just won’t go away, don’t just take pain killers and try to forget about it - it’s important to figure out the cause of the problem.
Some neck pain can be relieved through the suggestions below but sometimes the situation is a little more complicated, so you need some assistance from a professional who can determine the cause of the issue, and help put things right.
Osteopaths provide treatment to address the underlying issues such as tension through the spine, shoulders, and jaw that can influence neck pain. Everything is connected, and osteopaths understand how the muscles, bones, nerves, tissues and even organs work together and influence each other. This allows them to address the bigger picture elements that can be affecting your sore neck to help manage neck pain in the short and long term. Osteopaths can also offer specific stretches and advice tailored to your unique situation which can help a speedy recovery.
What Can You Do About Your Neck Pain?
If you have a sore neck there are some things you can do to try to improve your neck pain.
Particularly neck, shoulders, back and chest. Forming the habit of taking a few minutes to stretch throughout the day can really help fix a sore neck. Try these exercises:
Gently tilt your ear towards your shoulder till you feel a gentle stretch. Take a deep breath in then return to the centre before doing the same on the other side (photo for the stretch?).
Tilt your chin towards the ceiling, take a deep breath in then slowly tilt your head towards your chest, take another breath then return to looking straight ahead.
Slowly turn your head towards one shoulder until you feel a stretch or you reach the limit of movement your neck currently has, take a deep breath in, hold for three counts then release. Do the same on the other side.
This can be useful if you wake up with a stiff neck. A hot shower or a warm wheat bag or hot water bottle on the painful area can help the muscles to relax and soften up.
Be Aware Of Your Posture
Don't stay in one position too long, or stare down at your screen for too long. Make adjustments to your work space so that you are holding a better posture while you’re working. Simple things, like ensuring that the screen is not too high or low can make a big difference to your neck pain.
Our bodies are designed to move, and love variety, so being active is important for overall health. Find something you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine. Try to mix it up a little, for variety, how about swimming, yoga, Zumba or martial arts? Take a class or find instructional videos on youtube. Moving your body and getting your heart rate up is very helpful for stress relief too.
Often we forget to breathe into our belly and this is a great way to take the pressure off the neck and upper shoulder muscles. Many people breathe shallowly as a result of stress or anxiety, but we function best when we breathe deeply. Remind yourself to breathe fully into your diaphragm filling your belly to help calm your nervous system and take the strain off your shoulders and neck.
Sometime we are not even aware of our stress levels. We get used to stress and don’t realise the effect it is having on our bodies. It’s important to pay attention to your body, your stress levels and find ways to manage them. How often do you find time for you? When do you feel calm and peaceful?
Our bodies are not designed to keep going without sufficient time to rest and recuperate. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, pilates, walking (particularly in green spaces) and listening or dancing to music are great options for slowing down.
5 Common Causes of Neck Pain
Hunching forward sitting at a computer all day is the classic example of poor posture, but with our increasing reliance on smartphones lots of people hunch over and spend a significant amount of time staring down at their phones too. Have a look around, you'll be surprised.
The saying "having the weight of the world on your shoulders" has some truth to it! Feeling stressed (anxious or busy too) causes us to increase the use of our upper ribs and accessory breathing muscles - the same ones that attach from your shoulders to your neck. These muscles can get tight and sore, causing headaches and neck pain.
Joint Restrictions or Muscle Strains
Most of us have had the feeling of waking up in the morning with a stiff neck. Joint restrictions and muscle spasms can happen when you “tweak” your neck while doing an activity or sleeping in a funny position for example. Joints can become restricted, the range of movement of the neck is limited or locked, and needs assistance to unwind. These are usually short lived experiences but very uncomfortable.
Cervical Radiculopathy (or Brachial Plexus Injury)
This is when the nerves that emerge from your neck and innervate your arm, also called the brachial plexus, are injured. Patients often feel neck pain, but there are often other symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or weakness in the shoulder, arm or hands. This can occur with a force injury such as rugby tackles or whiplash, or from other issues like disc compression. If you have these symptoms it is important to seek professional advice.
General wear and tear through life can contribute to degeneration of the neck vertebrae, discs and other tissues. If you have had a sore neck for a long time, there is a chance that it could be arthritis. There are different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. If your neck pain is ongoing, it’s good to get it checked to know what you are dealing with.