10 Best Ways To Help Address Your Sore Neck

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Sore Neck – There’s something about neck pain or any sort of neck discomfort that is extra alarming for anyone.

Perhaps it’s the proximity to the spine that immediately causes us to worry or assume the worst. While it is very tempting to google your symptoms and self-diagnose (hello, WebMD) for your own peace of mind, you should be aware of when a sore neck is a cause for concern and when it is not.

Like the rest of our body, the neck is subject to wear and tear due to factors like age, physical activity, and even stress. Some of the damage that can be incurred by our body when we don’t treat it right is actually irreversible. However, the good news is that most of it is not. With the right course of treatment, you can most likely be back to full fighting form! 


So when should you start worrying?

Any neck discomfort that is chronic and that has been bothering you for quite some time deserves medical attention — sooner rather than later. Even if you think the pain is not that severe, the fact that it does not go away no matter what you do could actually be a sign that something more serious is happening. Visit your doctor and don’t skimp on the details for a proper diagnosis.

On the other hand, if you start feeling severe pain in your neck and it starts to get worse, see a doctor immediately. Go straight to the emergency room rather than attempting to self-diagnose and self-medicate. A shooting pain or a sharp, severe neck pain could be a sign of serious injury.

Do you have issues other than your neck? Perhaps you start to notice that your neck pain is accompanied by other ailments, like headaches, weight loss, dizziness or vertigo, fever, numbness and tingling sensations, and immobility. Some ailments might not seem related to you, but the only way to be sure is to have a doctor examine you.

That said, don’t get carried away and start assuming the worst with every crick and stiffness. Most cases of neck pain are rarely as serious as people suspect. Cancer, spinal cord damage, or autoimmune diseases are terrifying to contemplate, but that’s rarely the cause. Ninety-nine percent of neck pain is completely normal and harmless. The remaining one percent, while serious and should be diagnosed and addresses by your medical professional, are often treatable in some way shape or form [1].


Sore Neck Tip #1 - Do some neck stretches

The neck muscles are particularly sensitive to strain and tension. If you find yourself constantly sore and you want to help reduce neck pain, try doing some neck stretches at the start of the day and before going to bed. Better yet, practice yoga, pilates, or any physical pursuit that puts a lot of emphasis on stretching.

Sore Neck Tip #2 - Practice good posture

Take stock of the way you walk and the way you sit. Do you walk with your shoulders rolled forward? Are you slumped on your seat most of the day, head bent over a laptop? This could be causing your pain. Walk and sit with your back straight and your spine aligned, and try using a standing desk to help ease the burden on your neck.

Sore Neck Tip #3 - Choose your pillow carefully

Your lumpy pillow could be affecting your sleep quality and giving you a sore neck. Choose one that’s firm and designed to cradle your head and support your spine. Don’t forget to bring a neck pillow when you travel, especially for long-haul flights or road trips.

Sore Neck Tip #4 - Regular massages or a visit to a physical therapist can help

A good massage should help relieve muscle pain and release tension from your back, neck, and shoulders. It’s a good idea to get regular massages. If you visit a physical therapist, they will also have sophisticated machines to help you stretch.

Sore Neck Tip #5 - Use a cold compress

For acute pain, try to numb the area by applying ice or a cold compress. This is great for overworked people constantly complaining of stiff joints and aching muscles.

Sore Neck Tip #6 - Use a hot compress

Hot compresses from a heating pad or from a warm bath is one of the most soothing activities for sore muscles, including neck muscles.

Sore Neck Tip #7 - Take over-the-counter pain relievers

For instant relief, pop an ibuprofen (occasionally). This may be over-the-counter and relatively safe, but be careful: all medication can be abused with incorrect usage. Always follow the directions listed on the package.

Sore Neck Tip #8 - Don’t carry heavy bags

Carrying heavy purses, or a single strap backpack could be causing your neck pain. This uneven strain can lead to muscle pain on your shoulders, back, and neck. Switch sides from time to time. Better yet, avoid carrying anything heavy altogether.

Sore Neck Tip #9 - Try essential oils

Essential oils have become extremely popular the last few years. Still, many people remain skeptical. While some widely held beliefs about essential oils tend to verge on new age and pseudoscience territory, the actual science behind essential oils is sound. Applying a couple of drops of the right blend directly on your sore neck is a safe and effective way to possibly ease your pain or discomfort.

Lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary are the best essential oils to aid a sore neck

Sore Neck Tip #10 - Check with your dentist

“My neck hurts, let me go see a dentist,” might not be your first thought when you have neck soreness. Therefore, this is easily overlooked. Actually, many dental issues can affect your neck. The aches and pains you are feeling in the nape of your neck and all the way up your jaw, could be caused by underlying dental problems. Teeth grinding, for instance, will affect your jaw, neck, and even shoulders [2]. The only way to accurately diagnose and treat this is by going to see a dentist.

If you’re waking up feeling unrested it might be due to your sleep position.  Here are some top recommended sleeping positions to help aid in back pain relief.

Sore Neck Resources:
[1]   Pain Science; When to Worry About Neck Pain … and when not to!, Paul Ingraham, September 22, 2017.
[2]   OraGuard; Teeth Grinding can be a real pain in the neck, head, jaw, shoulder, April 03, 2018.

Note that if you have existing medical conditions that cause you chronic pain on your back or neck, the tips above might be able to offer some temporary comfort but it won’t cure your sore neck permanently. For instance, if you have a severe neck injury like misalignment and whiplash injury, a herniated disc, a pinched nerve, or a degenerative disc disease, neck pain will probably be chronic unless you address the underlying cause. Some of these conditions might require surgery, rigorous physical therapy, a cast, or constant medication. This can be diagnosed through a CT scan or an MRI. Bottom line, seek professional help by speaking to your medical professional.


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