If you’re like most people, you have likely experienced some form of neck pain in your lifetime. Whether you suffer from a chronically stiff neck, severe neck pain, or acute discomfort from time to time, you know just how much of a nuisance it can be and probably feel desperate for relief and prevention. While some conditions may require formal medical intervention, such as a herniated disc or cervical injury, many causes of neck pain are able to be addressed at home. Dr. Christopher Williams, founder and medical director of Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, is dedicated to helping Georgia patients identify the underlying cause of their symptoms in order to treat the issue, relieve the discomfort, and prevent future pain.
What causes neck pain?
With the increasing amount of time being spent on smartphones and in front of computer screens in our society, it is no surprise that more and more people each year experience neck pain – formally known as cervical pain – among other joint and muscle problems. Poor posture from looking down at a phone or up at a screen for a prolonged period of time is one of the biggest culprits of neck pain today. Other common causes of muscle or joint pain in the neck include:
- Poor posture
- Smartphone use
- Computer use
- Poor sleeping position
- Sedentary lifestyle
One of the key factors in getting relief from your neck pain is to understand what is causing it to begin with. Try to be more aware of your daily routines, and even set reminders for yourself to readjust your posture.
How can I relieve neck pain at home?
In many cases, you can reduce or relieve your neck pain using simple at-home remedies, including:
- Medication: Over-the-counter Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be helpful for neck pain. If your neck pain is severe or has been caused by a traumatic injury, your doctor may prescribe narcotic pain medication to help with your symptoms, but this should be used sparingly if possible and only as directed.
- Ice: For the first 48-72 hours after an acute injury or the onset of neck pain, you should apply ice or cool compresses intermittently to the area.
- Heat: After 48-72 hours, you can switch to intermittent heat to help relieve your neck pain. However, take care not to fall asleep with your heating pad or hot compress, as this can cause skin injuries and other issues.
- Massage: Having a partner or friend gently massage the area can help relieve neck pain in some cases, but it is important to remember that excess massage by an untrained individual may actually exacerbate the symptoms.
If your symptoms persist, it may be appropriate to seek professional help. Dr. Williams and the exceptional team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta can help you determine the cause of your pain and use a wide variety of treatments and techniques, including the innovative Regenexx procedure, to help you get relief from your painful symptoms.
How can I prevent neck pain in the future?
Arguably more important than finding ways to relieve neck pain is understanding how you can prevent further discomfort in the future. Practice the following habits to minimize your risk of neck pain:
Be aware of your posture. When you are working on the computer or scrolling through your phone, be mindful of your posture. Try to sit straight up, do not slouch, and keep your face looking straight ahead rather having your head tilted up or down. If needed, you can download an app or set reminders to help you adjust your posture at frequent intervals until it becomes a natural habit.
Change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back or side is best for preventing neck pain. When we sleep on our stomachs, our heads are forced to one side or the other for hours at a time, causing a stiff neck upon waking. Sleeping on your back or side keeps your head at a more neutral position and reduces the risk for neck pain.
Stretch regularly. Keeping your muscles loose and stretched can help prevent neck pain and stiffness. Slow, controlled, repetitive movements, such as shoulder circles and ear-to-shoulder stretches, can be highly beneficial. Try to make a point to do these stretches in the morning, at midday, and in the evening.
There is no doubt that chronic or acute neck pain can be frustrating, discouraging, and often debilitating. If you are suffering from neck pain and are unable to get relief using the above techniques, it may be time to seek help to further investigate the cause of your symptoms. Call Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule your consultation with Dr. Christopher Williams today, and take the first step toward eliminating your pain and living your life with a newfound freedom!