As with most general advice, we do suggest that you err on the side of caution: if in doubt, go to your GP about your neck pain treatment. That said, most neck pain is temporary and – whilst painful and incredibly frustrating – not too much to worry about…
And while most neck pain is caused by natural stresses and strains, there are serious exceptions. Clearly if you’ve been involved in an accident, it needs a thorough checking out. Similarly, those that work with vibrating power tools can find themselves with a squashed nerve. Known as ‘Cervical Radiculopathy’, this can also occur if your neck is awkwardly positioned, twisted or bent abnormally. Always worth chatting to your GP about your neck pain treatment to rule out something serious if these criteria apply to you.
Some other neck pain comes – alas – with age! A form of arthritis called ‘Cervical Spondylosis’ can cause discomfort, sometimes even squashing nerves… This in turn causes a radiating pain in the arms, and a feeling of ‘pins and needles’ or a numbness in the hands / legs.
Contrary to most people’s first instinct, resting a stiff neck often makes it feel worse. So strike a balance: don’t do anything to strain your neck, but otherwise carry on with a “Business as usual” attitude – with the exception of driving! You may not realise just how much unnecessary strain driving puts on your neck. A decent driver repeatedly twists the head to check mirrors and see what’s coming! Avoid at all costs.
Since you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly health-conscious enough to know that taking painkillers is an imperfect and short-term way to relieve symptoms of neck pain. As long as you’re sensitive to that, though, take your preferred anodyne tablet or try a topical application such as ibuprofen gel.
Those that have a hot-water bottle or heat pack might find it useful for neck pain treatment. Sit comfortably with the application for a short time. Don’t push your head back into the pack – just rest naturally.
Check to make sure your night-time pillow is firm and low. If it’s too high – or if you have two pillows – it can bend your neck unhelpfully. Similarly, a soft pillow almost certainly won’t give you enough support.
Our short, light-hearted video ‘Officise‘ contains tips to help prevent and correct bad posture. If you’re already in pain, though, keep a close eye on your posture. One of the great secrets for neck pain treatment is to let it pass without aggravating things further!
Seen those cushioned neck collars that hold your head straight and steady as you walk around? They do virtually nothing to help! In fact, restricting the movement of a stiff neck often makes things worse.
If in doubt, check it out: if painkillers don’t work, or you’re even slightly suspicious that it’s more serious than a stiffness or twinge, visit a healthcare professional, e.g. your GP. If your neck pain is mild to moderate – and lasts for weeks rather than days – physiotherapy may be the order of the day. Pop in and see us for an assessment.
Finally, some people wake up with a neck condition that might best be described as ‘locked’ to one side. Very painful and a little bit frightening… Known as ‘acute torticollis’, the condition often results from injury to the neck muscles; from resting the head in an unusual position or from prolonged exposure to a cold draft…
Acute torticollis often passes in as little as a day; sometimes two. From time to time we hear of cases that last a week… If that’s you, it’s wise to have your GP check it out, but neck pain treatment often comprises the same advice as for the other neck issues we’re covering here.