Neck pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, from muscular strain to poor posture. It is a common complaint and unsurprisingly there are many conventional, home and herbal remedies out there aimed towards relieving the symptoms. Here, our muscle and joint expert examines the treatments available to alleviate neck pain and suggests the best natural solutions to ease any discomfort.
Louise Baillie S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 @ActiveLouise Ask Louise
An introduction to neck pain relief
There are many causes of neck pain, ranging from a simple muscular neck strain to life-threatening conditions such as meningitis. Most of the time, neck pain arises due to a simple muscle strain and will resolve well within one week. However, it is important to rule out other causes and if you are worried or if pain is severe, you must make an appointment to see your doctor.
If, as is usually the case, your neck pain is the result of muscle strain or ligament damage from sitting with the wrong posture or after a minor whiplash injury which overstretches your muscles and ligaments, this can be treated at home by following some simple measures:
Tips to help neck pain
Keep your neck moving – stiffness will only increase the pain, and if you can move it as much as possible, this should lessen the time that you suffer with neck pain. For this reason neck collars are not usually a good idea for this type of problem. Gentle stretching exercises such as looking up, down and side to side will ease your neck back into action
Keep your neck warm – cold air can result in a stiff neck, as the muscles tighten when they are cold. Try to avoid draughts. Heat pads or hot water bottles may help with pain, as this encourages the muscles to relax and blood to flow around the sore area.
Improve your posture – repeatedly sitting slouched over a desk or with a phone tucked into the crook of your neck is a recipe for prolonging and amplifying neck pain. If you are aware that you have a bad posture, make a concentrated effort to sit with a straight back and try not to bend your neck at an awkward angle. Adjust the height of your computer screen and make sure that your mirrors are at the right angle in your car. This will prevent you from repeatedly stretching your neck. This goes for your sleeping posture too. Often sore necks are worst when you wake up in the morning. If this is the case, it may be worth readjusting your pillows to a more supportive position.
Often anti-inflammatories work well for this kind of neck pain. If you are looking for an alternative to paracetemol or ibuprofen tablets or gel, a herbal remedy containing arnica, a herb with anti-inflammatory properties, is often an effective solution. It has been used for many years for this type of muscle damage and can be found in licensed herbal remedies such as Atrogel® Arnica gel.
For anything other than soft tissue damage, medical advice is advised, as some cases of neck pain have deep rooted causes which could lead to further problems if left untreated. If you suspect a serious cause, such as meningitis, it is important to seek medical attention straight away.