Neck and back pain are some of the more common pains that people will experience at some point in their lives. Beginning at the base of your skull, your neck contains seven small vertebrae that work to support the weight of your head and enable you to move the head in different directions. However, this same flexibility can cause you to feel pain and experience injury due to a number of factors.
Unfortunately, even the simplest movements you make can cause pain to instantly manifest or build up over time on your neck — sitting down for long periods at a time, observing incorrect posture, or even the normal aging process are some examples. And then there are sudden blows to the head, falls, or accidents that can leave you with excruciating pain and limited mobility on your neck, back and head.
Of course, getting checked by a health professional such as a physician, physical therapist or doctor of chiropractic would be an important step in identifying the direct and underlying causes of your pain and determining the best course of action to take to remedy the condition. But it’s also important to note that there are simple steps and minor tweaks to your daily routine that can go a long way in helping you achieve pain relief. To help you understand the best ways to practice your own neck pain care, NYC pain specialists share the following tips:
1. Refrain from overexerting yourself. Muscle strain is typically related to back and neck pain; sometimes, the best thing you can really do is to ease up on your activities for the day and ensure that the affected area gets proper rest. Restrict your activity and take your medication (if any were prescribed) — this gives your strained muscles the opportunity to relax.
2. Try some gentle massage. You can ask your pain management specialist about simple massage techniques that someone can perform on your neck or back to help stretch any tight muscles.
3. Be mindful of your general posture and make the necessary modifications. You may not be aware that the way you carry your body or move your head, neck, shoulders and back contributes a lot to the pain you feel, so try to keep track of your posture and make improvements so that your neck and back receive sufficient support. When standing, for example, keep your head up, your shoulders straight, tuck in the hips, keep the chest slightly forward, and balance your weight on both feet instead of one. When sitting, on the other hand, keep your hips and knees at a right angle with your feet flat on the floor — avoid crossing your legs.
4. If you can, avoid bending forward at the waist, like when you stoop down to pick something up off the floor. If you must do this, make sure that your footing is firm and that your back is straight, then bend at your knees and hips — not at the waist with straight knees. And try not to lift objects heavier than 30lb.
5. Apply ice and then heat. Muscle and ligament strain on your neck can ideally be addressed by applying ice to slow down swelling and inflammation. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat so that muscle spasms can be relaxed and blood flow to deep tissues can be