As discussed in the previous blog post The Weight of the World on Your Shoulders: Why do I have Neck Pain? Neck and Shoulder pain are very common. If you do encounter an episode of neck/ shoulder pain you may find some of the following ways to ease neck pain helpful.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people are affected by neck pain every year’ Women are more likely to suffer than men.
Acute neck pain is very common and usually nothing to worry about. Tense muscles are often to blame. There is no clear cause of neck pain with various contributors playing a part: desk-based work, sporting activities and stress levels can all play a part. An acute neck pain usually subsides within 1-2 weeks. When the pain is prolonged physiotherapy is recommended initially to provide diagnosis however, also to provide a management plan.
6 BEST WAYS TO EASE NECK PAIN
1. A Physiotherapy Review at Flow Physio London
- At Flow Physio London a thorough assessment helps to get to the root cause, aiming to provide understanding as to why this came about in the first place and a subsequent treatment and prevention plan. This is always recommended after 48 hours of neck pain if it does not diminish on its own.
- Tailored exercises can help to alleviate tension/ spasticity through use of stretches, however, a comprehensive strength programme aims to assist in addressing asymmetry/ improving postural positioning. Certainly, when thinking about posture it is not just a case of sitting up straight!
- Education: increasing your understanding of the body and how best to reduce pain and/ or tension.
- A number of manual techniques can then be allocated such as sports massage, trigger point release, joint mobilisation, acupuncture and dry needling which be beneficial when correctively paired with an exercise programme.
- Activity limitations: it would be recommended to limit certain activities that cause an increase in symptoms, however, certainly not holt activity altogether, this is certainly something that can be discussed. Our aim is to enable a swift return to normal activity levels.
2. A self-help stretch programme
Here are a few exercises to consider to get things moving with rehabilitation:
Thoracic Rotation: x 20 hourly when sat at desk. Stabilise at the hips, drawing a box and arrow movement twisting at the thoracic spine.
Neck flexion stretch: draw your chin slowly towards your chest, slowly pull into the movement using the weight of your hands. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds. Complete 2-3 times. Remember to breathe through the movement.
Neck retraction stretch: place your fingers on your chin and tuck in gently pushing back into movement. Feel the stretch in the back of the neck. Hold for 2-3 seconds before returning to neutral. Aim to complete 10 repetitions regularly through the day.
Chest opener: clasp hands behind your back. Squeeze shoulder blades together. For an additional stretch lift your hands off back.
Lateral flexion stretch: Slowly bend your neck to bring right ear to your right shoulder whilst keeping shoulder in position. Hold position for 5-10 seconds. Complete also on left side. Aim to complete 3-4 repetitions regularly.
3. Alternate ice and heat
Apply ice for the first few days. After that, apply heat with use of heating pad/ hot compress or hot shower regularly.
4. Stress reducing techniques
- Sleep: Shorter, fragmented sleep can lead to heightened sensitivity of pain.
- Breathing Techniques: shallow upper chest breathing is part of the typical stress response. We know here also when stressed there is a tendency to brace at the shoulders to assist in this type of breathing.
5. Create the best ergonomic workplace
- Place your monitor to eye level aiming to keep the head vertical. If working on a laptop the screen certainly will be too low with this perhaps consider a laptop stand with use of an external keyboard and mouse.
- A supportive chair with a high back providing support the spines natural curvature.
- Remember to take Regular breaks: movement at 20- minute intervals is the recommendation.
- Consideration of a standing desk: optimal recommendation is sitting for 20 minutes followed by 8 minutes of standing.
6. Changing sleep position
- Be mindful of your sleeping position: if a front sleeper with neck pain perhaps try and give a new position a trial.
- Think about pillows, would recommend one medium to firm pillow. Giving enough support to allow the neck to maintain a neutral position.
When to see a doctor
If your neck pain interferes with your regular daily activities and despite trialing some of the self-help techniques please seek a GP for a medical opinion.
6 Reasons for seeking a medical opinion:
- Radiating pain into both arms or legs.
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in arms/legs
- Problems with balance or coordination
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Unintended weight loss
- Fever or Chills
- There are many recommendations online to use a neck collar. Please do not use this unless recommended to by your Dr. If used incorrectly it can lead to worsening of your neck pain.
- Postural corrector straps: these are all the rage at present, please do not use, with these they provide support however, the muscles as a result do not have to do as much work and therefore, in the long term the structures can become weaker.
For more information please refer to:
- The Weight Of The World On My Shoulders
- Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Neck pain: Overview. 2010 Aug 24 [Updated 2019 Feb 14]. Available here
- Headspace can be fantastic for guided meditation as a management tool for stress relief
- Nazari G, MacDermid J, Bryant D et al. The effectiveness of surgical vs conservative interventions on pain and function in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome. A systematic review and meta- analysis. 2019; 14(5). 10.1371/journal.pone.0216961. · PubReader | · ePub (beta) | · PDF (2.5M) | · Cite