For many living with chronic neck pain, conventional treatment such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or chiropractic care won’t always provide relief.
Fortunately, some of our forum members have offered us a wealth of simple yet unique techniques for neck pain management. Take a look at some of the best of them, listed below:
- Stay hydrated
The discs between the vertebrae in your spine require water to maintain disc height and spinal alignment and to take pressure off the spine.
- Each individual spinal disc is roughly 80 percent water at birth, with this margin decreasing as the disc degenerates over time.
- Some of our forum members have reported that carrying a 1 liter water bottle with them all day serves as a reminder to stay hydrated.
- Pairing your water intake with your daily habits, such as drinking two glasses of water after each time you brush your teeth, may also help.
Over time, maintaining strong daily hydration habits may prevent further degeneration of cervical discs, which may reduce neck pain.
- Increase topical and oral magnesium intake
Neck pain is most frequently the result of a muscle strain or sprain. Increasing your intake of magnesium, a mineral that aids in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, may help avoid these pain causing problems.
- Magnesium is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, beans, soy products and whole grains.
- Magnesium can be absorbed by taking a bath with Epsom salt, or a similar supplement.
- Some forum members have reported success with the use of magnesium oil, which is applied directly to the skin after a warm shower or bath.
To prevent adverse reactions, you may want to consult with your physician before beginning use of any supplement or oil.
- Avoid cradling the phone in your neck
One way you may not even realize that you’re aggravating your neck is through angling it while speaking on the phone.
- Don’t cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder, as this puts unneeded strain on your cervical spine.
- Some forum contributors have experience pain relief through the use of a hands free headset.
Though it may seem like a small step, correcting phone posture can do wonders for your neck.
- Consider acupuncture
Acupuncture provides varying degrees of neck pain relief for forum members. Some people swear by its effectiveness, while others note success about half of the time. Others get no relief from acupuncture.One forum member raised the interesting point that the efficacy of acupuncture and deep tissue massage often depends on the skills of the practitioner, making it important for patients to research these treatment methods and to really understand how to identify a skilled professional.
- Try remedial massage
Many of our forum members rave about remedial massage and its capacity to relieve neck pain.Remedial massage differs from traditional massage in that it involves oil being applied and rubbed into the skin. Over time, the oil is intended to penetrate the muscles and joints, removing toxins and improving joint mobility while relaxing the muscles. For individuals with neck pain, a targeted remedial massage may offer relief.For those considering topical application of magnesium oil, remedial massage may pair well with this process.
- Enlist the help of a physical therapist
It’s common to think of physical therapy as a treatment aimed at reducing symptoms from a given injury. While this is correct, physical therapy for the neck can also have other benefits, such as:
- Identifying secondary causes of pain.
- Teaching the individual how to reduce the risk of reinjury.
- Strengthening the weak areas of the neck through targeted exercises.
- Additionally, physical therapy may be helpful in arriving at a diagnosis for a previously ambiguous condition.
- Strategically place ice on certain areas of the body
Neck pain may also be joined by nagging headaches and numbness or tingling in the back of the head, neck, shoulders and hands.Some forum members suggest putting ice on different areas of the body (between the thumb and index finger, on the bone 1.5-2 inches behind the ear, on the indent between the middle of the eyebrow) to help achieve relief from such symptoms.
- Use a water pillow
Some patients note the rejuvenating effects of water pillows that allow patients to dictate the firmness of their pillow. Specifically, more water equals a firmer pillow; less water provides a softer pillow.Various water pillow products are available on the market and may be worth considering for patients who have tried more traditional neck pillows and braces to no avail.
- Incorporate swimming into your exercise routine
Many Forum members note the therapeutic effects that swimming has on their neck pain, specifically in reducing inflammation, providing quick pain relief and easing neck stiffness. Interesting tips have included:
- Getting the water level up to the neck and simply moving around.
- Squatting until the water reaches the chin, then moving back and forth and to the right and to the left.
- Find a swimming pool that is quite warm.
- Find a stroke that is gentle on your neck, or consult with a physical therapist or other health professional for recommendations. Depending on your swimming skill, you may be able to do “Texas 25s”—either crawl or breaststroke—which is swimming a length of the pool without taking a breath. If you can do this, then you can get a lot of aerobic exercise without twisting your neck at all.
For some, swimming is too strenuous on the neck. If that is the case for you, water therapy—which is exercise done in a warm swimming pool, is often a great alternative to land-based exercises.