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How To Relieve Neck Muscle Pain

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First Steps To Relieve Neck Pain

Relieve Neck Pain from Trigger Points & Muscle Knots

The causes of routine strain-and-sprain neck pain vary. If you wake up with a “crick” in your neck, it’s probably the sharp muscle contractions known as spasms, caused by a muscle strain. A sprain, in contrast, happens in ligamentsthe tough tissues that connect bones together. Alternatively, a tendonthe tissue that attaches muscles to bonesmay become inflamed, causing tendinitis. Basic self-help takes care of most routine neck pain flare-ups:

  • Use cold to numb the early acute pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers to control mild to moderate pain. These include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen , naproxen , or aspirin.
  • Use a neck collar for short periods to rest the painful muscles and tissues and ease your discomfort. “Collars have a bad reputation from people overusing them and getting weak muscles, but used a few hours here and there they can be very useful,” Dr. Shmerling says.
  • Apply heateither with a heating pad or by using a warm whirlpool bath if one is availableafter a day or two, once the acute pain calms down.

Should you go to a chiropractor to get your neck “cracked”? Dr. Shmerling counsels against sudden, strenuous manipulation of the neck. “It may be fine for low back pain, but avoid it for neck pain,” he says.

How To Soothe A Sore Neck

Neck pain essentials include icing and heat, gentle therapeutic exercise, and good posture.

Sore neck? It’s pretty common. And most men get neck pain for the same reasons they suffer low back pain. “In the vast majority of people, it’s routine muscle strain and sprain,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “The neck has to support that heavy bowling ball on top.”

The remedies for neck and back pain also have some things in common. First, ease the early intense pain with rest, ice, and heat then move on to gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Later, avoid bad posture and other habits that could trigger another neck pain crisis.

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How To Lower Risk For A Stiff Neck

  • Practice good posture. Getting into the habit of always using good posture can go a long way toward preventing aches and pains. Some examples could include setting up a workstation to be ergonomically-friendly, lifting heavy items with the legs rather than the back, or sleeping on the back or side with an ergonomic pillow. Being aware of posture throughout the day can keep the spine naturally aligned and minimize stress on the neck.

Dont Drive For Long Periods At A Time

Neck Pain Relief Stretches &  Exercises

Just like sitting at your desk all day, sitting behind the wheel of your car can affect your neck. If you have to drive for long periods, here are some tips for preventing a stiff neck:

  • Take breaks to stand up and stretch.
  • Set an alarm to remind you to check your posture while driving.
  • Set your seat in a position that provides you the most support and puts you in good posture.
  • Dont text and drive. Its illegal, dangerous, and bad for your neck to be repetitively looking up and down from your phone to the road.

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Sleeping In The Wrong Position

Posture affects the body at all times, even during sleep. People who sleep on their stomachs tend to rest one side of their face on the pillow. Doing this can overextend the muscles on that side of the neck.

Sleeping with large pillows can elevate the head too high, forcing the neck to bend forward. Staying in this position throughout the night may result in neck tension the following morning.

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Causes Of A Pulled Neck Muscle

The anatomy of the neck is a wonderful design that is a compromise between protection of some very important structures and movement. The neck contains several vital structures:

  • Major blood supply to the brain.
  • Trachea or breathing tube to the lungs
  • Spinal cord.

In the end, the need to protect the blood vessels, respiratory passages and nerves has been balanced with the need for mobility and flexibility, making the neck rather vulnerable to the stresses and strains of everyday life to say nothing of direct injury.

The largest section of the spinal cord and the base of the brain are held within the neck. Those nerves that will eventually reach your toes, and every other part of your body, must pass through the neck. People are executed by being hung by the neck because everything important to life passes through it. In spite of the need to protect the blood supply to the brain, our ability to breathe, the spinal cord and all those important nerves, the neck must also be flexible. Our field of vision is dependent on the flexibility of the neck. To look up, down, right and left in almost a complete hemisphere of vision. This easy and extended movement of the neck almost encourages the head to twist farther than it should during an accident, and often allows the muscles that are attached to the shoulders, neck and skull to stretch and tear.

  • Carrying a tool box or suitcase, or all the groceries, only one side of the body
  • Posture and position at work .
  • Watch TV.
  • Stretches That Will Relieve Neck Pain And Tension

    How to Relieve Stiff Neck and Shoulder Pain using Trigger Point Massage at Home

    Stiff neck? The area above your shoulders is one that commonly holds tension, especially if you’re sitting at a desk all day or constantly staring down at your phone screen.

    According to research, neck pain may feel like a “kink,” stiffness or severe pain. This pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, or it may trigger headaches and cause numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms.

    In general, neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders. And technology is one of the major culprits. As a culture we put our necks through hell with our reliance on technology, which creates forward head carriage, and results in neck muscles that go into spasm and refer pain into our heads, temples, and even behind our eyes, says Brad Butler, chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions.

    “The most common causes of neck pain are either postural or positional. The modern-day life style of sitting at a desk looking over a computer for multiple hours unfortunately leads to a forward head position where the skull moves forward of its placement on the first cervical vertebra,” says Lara Heimann, physical therapist and creator of LYT Style Yoga. “Every millimeter that the skull is off-center places a strain on the posterior neck muscles. These muscles on the back of the neck have a chronic stress and load on them that creates tension and pain.

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    Stretch Your Neck And Shoulders

    Tilt your head to one side and at the same time drop the opposite shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, making sure the stretch doesn’t hurt but just using the weight of your head to ease out tension. Repeat on the other side. Next, look squarely over one shoulder then the other. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

    Can Neck Pain Be Prevented

    The best way to prevent neck pain is to keep your spine flexible and your muscles strong. You can do this with regular exercise 30 minutes on most days. Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day to stretch.

    Its important to develop good posture especially when youre sitting, at work or driving. Try not to slouch or to poke your chin out. A supportive pillow is also important to prevent neck pain.

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    What Are Common Neck Pain Causes

    Neck pain tends to peak in middle age, and is slightly more common in women and in patients with a family history of neck pain, says NYC-based interventional pain physician and physiatrist, Benjamin Bonte, MD. Smokers, patients with psychological diagnoses such as depression and anxiety, and patients with a sedentary lifestyle are also more at risk.

    Neck pain is most common in people over the age of 50. But beyond good old aging, the causes of neck pain are as varied as the list is long. Speaking of heres a list of some of the more common causes of neck pain:

    • Injury and Accidents:
    • Whiplash is a common neck injury sustained when the head is forced to move backward and/or forward beyond the normal range of motion. The unnatural and rapid movement of the neck affects the muscles and ligaments, which tighten and contract. This creates muscle fatigue resulting in pain and stiffness. Whiplash is most commonly sustained due to a car accident, but can also result from traumas such as a fall or a sports accident.
    • Nerve Compression: When a nerve becomes compressed, it can cause pain that moves up into the head, behind the eyes, into the jaw, down the arms, says Dr. Penhollow. Herniated discs are the most common cause of nerve compression and spinal stenosis , but bone spurs can also compress nerves.

    The most common types of neck pain.

    There are different neck pain profiles. Some people experience only one type, while others experience a combination.

    What Is Neck Pain

    9 Exercises to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain

    Neck pain is the worst kind of overachiever. It’s so common that it’s the fourth-leading cause of disability globally, following ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection. Nearly 30 percent experience it each year.

    And it’s not always centralized in the neck. It can radiate across your whole upper body, affecting your shoulders, arms and chest and can even cause headaches. Living with neck pain can be miserable, making it hard to focus and get through the day.

    Neck pain can be debilitating and may interfere with day-to-day life, including your ability to sleep, feel productive, and enjoy time with friends and family. And it affects more than just your physical body. Studies have shown that chronic pain can have an impact on a persons mental health up to 85 percent of patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.

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    What Are Neck Pain Symptoms

    Other than neck pain itself, you may notice other symptoms that accompany the pain. Some of the more common symptoms of neck pain include:

    • Neck muscle stiffness: Tight muscles in the back of the head or a muscle knot in the neck. This may spread to your shoulders, upper back and arms.
    • Headache: Experiencing headaches in the occipital region is very common but can also extend to the top of the head, causing “tension” headaches from muscle tightness.
    • Pain and/or weakness that shoots down the arm: This may be caused by muscle fatigue or nerve compression. Very often along specific nerve roots .
    • Loss of neck mobility: Inability to turn your head and neck easily.
    • Paraesthesias: A sensation of numbness and/or tingling in the arms, most often caused by nerve compression at the level of the spine, or as the branching nerves pass through tight, inflamed muscles.

    If your neck pain is caused by nerve compression, you may experience the following symptoms:

    • Weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
    • A feeling of numbness or pins and needles in arm, fingers or hand
    • Sharp, burning pain near the pinched nerve that radiates outward

    Some conditions, such as coronary artery disease or even lung tumors may mimic these conditions, notes Stewart G. Eidelson, MD. It is best to have a skilled physician perform a thorough physical examination when the symptoms described are present, he says.

    Use A Comfortable Supportive Pillow

    An unsupportive pillow can throw off your head-neck alignment enough to leave you waking up with headaches and/or neck pain. Polyester and latex pillows tend to work well. Regardless of what type of material you prefer, choose a pillow thats:

    The right height for your preferred sleep position Supportive enough to retain your head-neck alignment Comfortable enough to allow you to sleep through the night

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    Pressure Points For Neck Pain

    To try acupressure for neck pain relief, follow these steps:

  • Relax and breathe in deeply. Be mindful to choose a comfortable and quiet setting to practice acupressure treatment.
  • Use a firm, deep pressure to massage the pressure points you have identified to treat your neck pain. Its best to rotate your fingers in a circular or up-and-down motion for three to four minutes at each point, focusing on one at a time. If you feel a sharp increase in pain anywhere on your body during the treatment, stop right away.
  • Repeat the massage treatment throughout your day if you feel they are effective. Theres no limit to how many times per day you can practice acupressure.
  • Below is a list of pressure points for several different kinds of neck pain. Remember that in reflexology, the whole body is interconnected. That means that its not uncommon to stimulate one part of your body to activate or align another body part.

    What Do I Need To Know About Neck Anatomy

    How to relieve neck pain

    You dont need to memorize the physiology and anatomy of your neck to improve its function and reduce pain, but its helpful to have a general understanding of your cervical spine.

    Neck mobility is matchless. Although you wont get any Exorcist-style head spinning, it is capable of moving the head in many directions: 90° of flexion , 90° of extension , 180° of rotation , and almost 120° of tilt to either shoulder.

    But all that mobility comes at the cost of complexity. First youve got your seven vertebrae , each cushioned by an intervertebral disc and connected by facet joints. There are also 32 muscles, plus the tendons that attach them to bones, that help move and stabilize the neck, as well as a number of ligaments attaching bones to each other. Thats a lot of action in a comparatively small area.

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    Neck Muscle Pain Relief Where Should I Massage

    In order to eliminate tension in this part of your body, you will have to focus mainly on two areas, i.e. the nape of the neck and the shoulders.

    Both areas contribute to a sore and painful neck since they make up an inseparable unit. They are linked by certain muscles, which influence each other.

    That means, too much tension in the shoulder muscles can radiate in the nape of the neck causing problems there, and vice versa.

    There are also trigger points in the shoulder muscles that can lead to neck pain.

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    Causes And Risk Factors Of Neck Pain

    Neck pain can be caused by various health conditions, including the following:

    • Strained muscles
    • Pinched nerves and bone spurs
    • Trauma or injury
    • Growths, including tumors and cysts

    The following factors are known to increase the risk of developing neck pain:

    • Older age
    • Driving or traveling long distances
    • Working long hours at a computer
    • Hunching your neck down often, such as to look at your phone
    • Carrying heavy bags on shoulder straps
    • Poor alignment while sleeping
    • Smoking

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