If you have experienced neck pain or have been around someone who has, you know how frustrating and debilitating it can be. It can have a massive impact on many aspects of function and daily activities. So, what are the 4 must dos to relieve neck pain.

Majority of work related neck pain is a result of prolonged poor posture causing the muscle around your neck and shoulders to become tight and sore. These tight muscles can cause:

  • Tension headaches
  • Stiff neck joints
  • Limited neck movement.

Commonly the muscles that become tight and cause neck pain are the levator scapula, upper trapezius and scalene muscles. By stretching and increasing the length of these muscles, this will result in decreased neck pain.

Regular posture changes
Prolonged poor postures whether it be sitting or standing are a major cause of work related neck pain. As I have already explained above prolonged postures result in muscle tightness and potential neck pain. This is because after approximately 30 minutes of a sustained posture we start to fall into poor postures resulting in:

  • Slumped/rounded shoulders
  • Forward “chin poke” head position

By changing postures regularly, you will avoid falling into these bad postures. A recent research paper has found the most effective working posturesto be a cycle of:

  • 20 minutes sitting
  • 8 minutes standing
  • 2 minutes moving/stretching/walking
  • Address the cause of the pain DON’T MASK IT.

Now I know in previous episodes on acute lower back pain I have advised that in the early stages of acute low back pain a discussion with your GP or pharmacist can be very helpful in reducing pain levels, inflammation and allowing you to move more. This is still the case in acute episodes of neck pain.

HOWEVER, the difference I see in clinic between lower back and neck pain is:

  • Generally, the neck pain and dysfunction has come on over a period of time
  • Commonly there is not as much of an inflammatory process

The reason I say address the cause of the pain and DON’T mask it, is because often patients are taking pain relief for their headache pain and not so much their neck pain. In this case it is SUPER important to address what is causing the headaches ie: muscles tightness, neck joint stiffness. If you don’t have an acute neck pain episode, you will get more pain relief and longer lasting pain relief from treatments that address the cause. This is where a physiotherapy assessment and treatment can save you days or weeks of discomfort.

Review your pillow.
We typically spend on average 7 hours sleeping, this is deemed a prolonged posture. If your head and neck are in a poor posture due to your pillow being either too high or too low, this may be contributing to the ongoing pain. Things to look for when checking your pillow:

  • Is your head kept in a neutral position?
  • Is the pillow too low or too soft that you don’t have enough support between your head and shoulder?
  • Is the pillow too high or too firm that your head is being pushed up “kinking” your neck?
  • If your neck pain is worse in the morning or you’re waking during the night due to neck pain. You NEED to review what impact your pillow is having.

So, there you have the 4 must dos to relieve neck pain:

  1. Stretching.
  2. Regular posture changes.
  3. Address the cause of the pain DON’T MASK IT.
  4. Review your pillow.

Don’t let neck pain get the better of you! Book to see one of our experienced Physiotherapist who can appropriately assess your pain and provide treatment to relieve your neck pain and get you back to full function and pain free.

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