Chronic neck pain can be extremely debilitating. Two of the most common causes are car accidents and sports injuries, whereby a seemingly acute situation transforms into a long-term source of pain. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent chronic pain from getting worse, and treatment options to bring tangible relief. In this post, we’ll run through four of the most effective.
Top 4 Ways to Relieve Chronic Neck Pain
Tip 1: Don’t Make the Pain Worse
OK, this may sound obvious, but it’s important not to do anything that might exacerbate chronic neck pain. We all have busy lives, and you might feel an expectation to push through your pain to keep on top of all the things you have to do.
Don’t fall into this trap. Adding an acute injury to a chronic problem is not going to help you, and trying to ignore the pain definitely won’t work.
If your neck pain is substantial, it’s a sign that you temporarily need to slow down. Don’t undertake any strenuous activity that will put additional pressure on your neck, or risk further injury.
If you have a manual job, it’s worth speaking with your manager to reduce your workload or take on lighter tasks. When you go to bed, ensure your neck is supported by firm pillows in a neutral position.
Tip 2: Use Hot or Cold Compresses
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to hot or cold compresses for chronic pain. Acute injuries need ice in the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce inflammation, followed by heat to soothe muscles.
However, with long-term conditions, neither cold nor hot compresses can penetrate deeply enough to resolve the cause of the problem. Instead, you should use whichever combination helps to relieve your symptoms best.
For some people, cold treatment brings a numbing relief, while others prefer the soothing nature of a warm compress. Don’t forget to cover the source of heat or cold in a towel before applying to the neck, to avoid burns.
Tip 3: Keep Moving and Stretch
Your instinct might tell you not to move your neck when you experience pain. This is completely understandable, as any movement tends to coincide with an exacerbation of your symptoms.
However, it’s important to keep the muscles moving. We’re not suggesting anything strenuous, just simple, soft motions that maintain mobility of the neck and prevent the muscles from stiffening up.
Start by gently moving your head to the left, hold for 20 seconds, then come back to center. Repeat for the right side. Then, move your head forward and try to put your chin to your chest. Hold again for 20 seconds, then come back to center.
Don’t worry if you can’t make a full motion for any of these exercises initially; as your pain and stiffness reduce, mobility will improve.
Tip 4: Visit Your Doctor
You don’t need to manage chronic neck pain by yourself. While there are practical steps you can take at home to help manage your condition, it’s always best to involve a clinician in the long-term management of neck pain.
Your doctor will work with you to decide which therapy options are likely to offer the best relief. Some patients benefit from treatment with corticosteroid (cortisone) injections.
They work by reducing swelling in the affected area, allowing better movement and less pain. Cortisone shots tend to work quickly, and give results that can last for several months.
Note that common side effects can include temporary discomfort and swelling at the injection site, bruising, flushing of the face, and dimpling of the skin. Any signs of infection must be followed up swiftly, however, this is rare.
Click here to learn more about cortisone shots for chronic neck pain, or call the friendly team at All-Pro on (954) 399-5976.