Whatever the cause of neck pain or a stiff neck, the advice is generally the same, carry on with your normal daily activities, keep active and take painkillers to relieve the symptoms. Below are some simple steps to avoid/help relieve neck pain;
- Keep mobile. Perform a few simple stretches of the neck, moving the head in all directions a couple of times, slowly as you are able to, trying to go a little further each time. DO NOT ROLL your neck, this can aggravate the small joints (facet joints) of the spine/neck. Another useful exercise for those with neck pain or those that work with computers is to sit up tall, ensure the face is flat and then retract the head backwards, perform 5-6 repetitions a couple of times a day.
- DO NOT sleep on your front as this can force the neck into non neutral postures. Instead try to you lie on your sides and/or your back. Normally 1 pillow is sufficient to support your neck in a neutral (gentle curved) position (see image below).
- If you work with computers or you drive ensure that you have adjusted your posture so that the neck is in line with your shoulders, and the shoulders are not slumped during these activities. It is important to avoid driving if the pain is severe and is preventing movement as you may not be able to turn your head to see when reversing or looking from left to right.
- DO NOT wear a neck collar. These limit movement and can make symptoms worse longer term.
- If you have pain applying a heat pack before performing some simple neck exercises (as described above) can be useful. Taking paracetomol or Ibuprofen or both can be useful if pain is severe.
This advice is general guidance for those with mild-moderate pain. If your symptoms are persisting over more than a few days and/or the symptoms are worsening or severe you can contact our clinic today.