Neck pain is widespread and can affect up to 70% of people at one time or another during their life according to one study. Therefore, it is essential to know how to find relief from neck pain. Unfortunately, the only solution many people are aware of is taking over the counter pain medications. However, these medications are not intended for frequent or long-term use and may add other issues to your pain. Is there any way to get drug-free relief for neck pain?
To understand how to break free from neck pain, we first need to address some of the potential underlying causes. Then we will provide some tips for finding drug-free relief for neck pain.
What Causes Neck Pain?
The first step in conquering stubborn neck pain is learning what is causing it. This can allow you to avoid the underlying cause (if possible) and will help you know how to find relief. Here are some of the most common neck pain causes.
- Injuries – Neck pain often occurs following trauma such as a car accident, sports, injury, a slip and fall accident, or other types of injuries.
- Pinched nerves – Irritated nerves can lead to chronic pain, tingling, numbness, and more.
- Continual stress – Long-term stress can lead to neck problems and other chronic issues. This is, in part, due to the fact that body stores stress in the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
- Sleep position – Sleeping on your back or side is best for the neck. Just be sure to use the right pillow to maintain the proper curvature of your neck. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position if you have neck problems because it forces your spine to stay twisted all night.
- Arthritis – When the spine is in a stressed position, it can lead to premature degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. This can cause them to bulge or the vertebrae to rub.
- Poor posture – Whether you use a hunched posture due to spending a lot of time in a car, at a desk, or checking a smartphone, poor posture is at the heart of most cases of neck pain.
- Fibromyalgia – The chronic pain condition causes 18 tender points on the body. Fourteen of those points are in proximity to the spine.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it shows the vast array of ways neck pain can begin. Now let’s look at a few ways to get drug-free relief for neck pain.
#1 Change the Way You Sleep
Examine the quality of your bedding. When is the last time you changed your pillow or mattress? Make sure they are not too soft or overly hard. Adjust your sleep position so that your neck is not turned to the side while you sleep. You may even want to try a contoured pillow to keep your neck appropriately supported.
#2 Increase Your Water Intake
The spongy discs between your vertebrae are mostly water, so staying well hydrated is good for the neck as well as your overall health. Dehydration can also lead to muscle aches, so there are several ways that insufficient water intake can contribute toward neck pain.
If you are unsure whether you are getting enough water, try tracking your intake for a week to see if you are drinking 64 ounces or more per day. Remember that if you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, you will have to drink even more water to overcome the dehydrating effect. Alcoholic drinks also dehydrate the body.
#3 Using Ice or Heat the Right Way
Patients often ask whether ice or heat is best for neck pain, and the answer is that it depends on what is causing the pain. To determine which is the best, you need to understand what both do.
- Ice – Ice helps to reduce inflammation. It is the perfect remedy following an injury that causes swelling. It is also suitable for pain or autoimmune conditions that result in inflammation. Inflammation may also occur due to misalignments. Keep icing sessions to no more than 20 minutes and never allow direct contact with your skin.
- Heat – Heat is good for encouraging blood flow and healing. As more blood rushes to the area, so does oxygen, immune cells, and the materials your body needs to heal. Be careful not to use heat when dealing with inflammation. It may feel good while the compress is in place, but the increase in immune cells can actually increase swelling.
If you are unsure whether heat or ice is the best for your neck pain, speak with your doctor.
#4 Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic
When the neck is stiff and sore, or even if the pain is extending into the shoulders and down the arms, the source may be in the upper cervical spine. Upper cervical specific chiropractic targets the top two bones in the neck to relieve pressure from the nerves and to ensure that the head is balanced correctly. It involves precise measurements and extremely gentle corrections that can provide long-lasting results.
If you are living with chronic neck pain, upper cervical chiropractic may be the drug-free alternative that you have been searching for. Contact a practitioner in your area to schedule a consultation. This will help you to determine if upper cervical chiropractic is right for you. The search feature on this website will help you locate a preferred doctor in your area.