If you suffer from chronic neck pain, you’re no stranger to the pain, tightness, limited range of motion, and sleepless nights that can make your life miserable in general.
There are a number of causes of neck pain, including: trauma, such as a car accident, turning and reaching at the same time, drafts and bad ergonomics.
In most cases, however, neck pain is either caused or aggravated by STRESS.
Most people who are overwhelmed and under a lot of stress will tell you that they physically carry that stress in their neck.
This has been the case since caveman times, when our furry ancestors raised the hackles on their neck in threatening situations.
Today’s threats may include a cranky boss, looming deadline, or a failing relationship. While not the same threat as being eaten by a tiger, your body still reacts in the same way, resulting in a tight, stiff neck.
Chinese Medicine and Chronic Neck Pain
In Chinese medicine, your stiff neck is a classic case of stagnation.
The tightness in your upper back and neck create a slowdown in the circulation (stagnation) of blood and energy in the area. In addition, as that area becomes tight, it can cause the stagnation to move upward causing headaches, tooth grinding, and jaw pain.
Or it may move downward and cause back pain and tightness.
The antidote to neck pain in Chinese medicine is acupuncture, which works on two levels.
It can help relieve the pain and tightness in your neck, and it can also help relieve stress.
Your acupuncturist may also apply heat to the painful area to increase the circulation, or apply cups that create mild suction, also to increase circulation and relieve pain.
You should check with your doctor if your neck pain is accompanied by confusion, fever, or drowsiness. Also, if your neck pain radiates into your arms or hands, or if you feel numbness or tingling, it may be the sign of disk involvement and should also be checked out.
Here are 7 other tips you can do on your own to relieve neck pain.
1. Increase your flexibility.
After you have warmed up your stiff neck, move your head up and down as if you were nodding yes. Then slowly move your head from side to side as if you were saying no.
Tilt your head, moving your ear toward your shoulder on each side.
These stretches will help increase your range of motion, but remember, don’t do anything that is intensely painful.
2. Get some heat on it.
Take a warm shower, use a heating pad, warm rice bag, or a towel soaked in hot water.
By putting heat on your neck, you are increasing the circulation, loosening tight muscles, and enhancing your range of motion.
3. Sleep on it.
Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
This helps you maintain the natural curvature of your spine, and will help you avoid sleeping on your side, which can aggravate a stiff neck. You may also want to experiment with different pillows that support your neck.
4. Hold the phone.
Keep the phone off of your shoulder. If you’re on the phone a lot at work, get a headset or hold the phone with your hand.
5. Eyes forward.
Make sure that your work station is ergonomically correct. This means that you shouldn’t have to look sideways to see your computer screen, look downward all day long, or be sitting in an uncomfortable position.
6. Take a break.
If you’re on your computer all day, make sure you take regular breaks to get up, stretch, and walk around.
7. Stay away from drafts.
Cold air blowing on your neck can be an underlying cause of a stiff neck. Avoid sleeping in a draft, and be sure to wear a scarf on cool, cold and windy days.
Finally, you can consider…
Acupuncture for Neck Pain
In most cases, your stiff neck will be gone in a few days, anyway. Especially if you have used some of the suggestions above.
However, acupuncture can be EXTREMELY helpful in speeding up the healing process.
You can contact me by clicking on the links to my website below. If you live in another state, you can find an acupuncturist near you by checking out the acupuncture directory listed here on the site.