Last Updated on December 13, 2022 by Umer Malik
An unfavourable posture, the wrong pillow, a cold draft – and this can lead to tension in the neck. Psychological reasons such as stress, anxiety or sleep disorders often increase the symptoms. Affected people know: neck pain is often very uncomfortable because it can radiate to the head, where it leads to tension headaches, or to the shoulders and arms, which then sometimes lose mobility. In short, when you have neck pain, you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. We will show you what you can do against tension-related neck pain – both quickly and in the long term, or preventively.
WHAT HELPS QUICKLY WITH NECK PAIN?
If acute neck pain occurs due to muscle tension and even leads to tension headaches or shoulder problems, the neck muscles have usually been overstrained for a long time. Reason enough to take a break, relax and take care of the tension. Do you swear by home remedies for neck pain or do you prefer to take medication? Here we tell you which treatment methods quickly help with these neck complaints and ensure rapid relief of the pain.
HOME REMEDIES FOR NECK PAIN
Heat for neck pain
A traditional home remedy promises fast and natural help for acute tension-related neck pain: heat therapy. Because heat promotes blood circulation, relieves muscle tension and relieves pain noticeably and quickly. The most common methods for heat therapy are local applications such as electric heating pads, hot-water bottles or warmed-up cherry stone or millet pillows, as well as heat ointments that are used directly on the affected areas. Infrared lamps, saunas or hot full baths with herbal additives such as rosemary or chamomile oil that stimulate circulation or relax can also help with neck pain.
However, not all heat therapy measures are equally effective. With heat therapy, it is important that the right temperature can have an effect deep in the tissue over a longer period of time. ThermaCare® heat pads for the neck and shoulders have proven very effective for tension- related neck pain . Here’s how to use heat therapy to quickly relieve neck and shoulder pain, and what form of heat therapy works best and is right for your needs.
Massage for neck pain
If a part of the body hurts, you often unconsciously rub it yourself to relieve it. A back or neck massage helps to loosen the muscles, remove existing blockages and improve blood circulation in the tissue. This achieves a pleasantly warm relaxation effect, which can be increased by using warm vegetable oils.
A simple form of self-massage is to massage with a device such as a massage ball or tennis ball or a small foam roller. To do this, sit up straight and massage the affected neck and shoulder region with the opposite hand. After two to three minutes, switch sides.
Of course, a massage by professional masseurs has a more intensive effect. These can focus on loosening up all of your back muscles while you (hopefully) relax. There is a whole range of different massage techniques that range from gently relaxing to deeply penetrating the tissue. In the case of severe and chronic complaints in particular, you should find out beforehand exactly how your body is being worked on and whether you and your neck are ready for certain techniques. Because in the case of neck pain as a result of, for example, osteoporosis, inflammation or a herniated disc, an untrained massage grip can have harmful effects. Careful consideration should be given to where the symptoms are and how they can be solved or alleviated.
The following generally applies: In the case of severe, chronic or recurring neck problems associated with joint blockages, medically trained professionals should be consulted. Experienced physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and chiropractors can release blockages with just a few moves. This has less to do with wellness and relaxation, but usually has a more lasting effect.
MEDICATION FOR NECK PAIN
Painkillers for neck pain
Painkillers which treat pain and inflammation symptomatically, provide quick relief from neck pain, which has little anti-inflammatory but also analgesic effects. These drugs usually provide quick pain relief, but like any drug they can also trigger a number of undesirable side effects and should therefore only be used for a short time and only if your tolerance is known.
WHAT HELPS AGAINST NECK PAIN IN THE LONG TERM AND HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?
The quick relief of neck pain is important to break the vicious circle and to avoid further acute cramps by resting. Of course, it’s better if neck tension hardly ever occurs or doesn’t occur at all. You can prevent neck pain with the following methods:
Movement for neck pain
Active and regular training of the muscles is an important factor in the prevention of tension-related neck pain. On the one hand, this includes targeted exercises for the neck region. On the other hand, you can also ensure stronger muscles and increased blood circulation with neck-friendly sports such as backstroke, water aerobics, back-friendly yoga, tai chi, qigong or Nordic walking. And another bonus: Regular training leads to an increased natural release of endorphins. This also serves to reduce stress and thus reduces the physical causes and psychological triggers for neck pain alike.
Posture tips for neck pain
Most tension in the neck region has to do with an unfavourable posture. Many of us spend large parts of the day cramped in front of the computer, slumped on the sofa, or with our heads bent over our cell phones. No wonder, then, that neck pain is spreading so rapidly in the population. Help your neck and take frequent breaks during work or other concentrated activities to correct your posture: make sure you are sitting up straight and place your legs at right angles to each other in front of you. Straighten your upper body and consciously relax your shoulders by letting your shoulder blades slide back and down into your back. The head should be straight on the cervical spine, ideally the screen should be below your eye level, your arms are at right angles on the table. If you look at your cell phone, keep it at eye level if possible or better move your eyes down before tilting your head.
In between, do some relaxation exercises by shrugging your shoulders up and down and rolling them back and forth. Also good: Tilt your head to the right and left and pull the opposite shoulder down. Enjoy the pull in your neck muscles. It is worth getting up two to three times every hour and stretching your body from top to bottom. This is not only good for the neck, but also helps to bring a breath of fresh air to tired thoughts.
Choosing the right sleeping position and mattress for neck pain
Sleep is the time when body and mind should recover. We spend a corresponding amount of time in bed. But often with neck problems, the night’s sleep is no longer restful. If you wake up in the morning with hardened neck muscles, it is high time to optimize your sleeping position, mattress and pillow.
If possible, people with neck pain should lie straight and stretched out on their back and use no pillow or only a very thin one. Prefer to sleep on your side? Then put a small pillow under your head to keep your neck from buckling.
When choosing a mattress:
It should support the natural shape of the spine for optimal positioning of the spine.
The hardness of the mattress should be adjusted to your own body weight (the heavier your body, the harder the mattress can be).
Pronounced body parts such as shoulders and buttocks should be able to sink into the mattress when lying on your side.
In order to do something against neck pain caused by tension in the long term or to prevent neck tension, you should train the neck muscles regularly. With the right training, you can strengthen slack muscles, stretch shortened muscles and relieve cramps. With these selected exercises – you can take active action against neck and shoulder pain. And you can do it easily at home, in the office or on the go.
So you can relax your neck
You may have noticed that stress makes neck tension worse or feels more painful. And you are right about that: neck pain can be aggravated by psychological factors such as being overwhelmed or fear and can even lead to stress reactions. As a result of the perception of pain, the body cramps and the muscles tense up further, which intuitively causes the body to assume an unnatural relieving posture in order to avoid further feelings of pain. This leads to a vicious cycle that worsens and prolongs the symptoms.
In order to reduce or prevent neck pain caused by tension, it is therefore worth consciously relaxing your neck again and again. Relaxation techniques help, some of which can be applied quickly and easily. Others require practice or guidance. Here we give you an overview of three popular methods:
Progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson: With this method of deep muscle relaxation, individual muscle groups are deliberately tensed and relaxed in a specific order for a short time. Practitioners should clearly perceive the before/after state. On the one hand, this can help to reduce stress-related tension and contribute to a deeper relaxation of the muscles. On the other hand, body awareness can be trained so that, ideally, the practitioners can consciously relax the muscles in their neck, for example, if necessary, and thus learn to prevent further tension. This technique is particularly effective for chronic neck pain and less so for acute symptoms.
Meditation: The term meditation summarizes a large number of sometimes very different techniques. Whether you’re sitting, walking, preferring a guided meditation, focusing on the breath, or striving for mindfulness, it usually involves focusing the mind regularly to gather and calm inwardly, for greater awareness and mindfulness . Since meditation can do a lot to reduce stress perception, a daily practice also helps prevent muscle tension and has a positive effect on pain perception.
Autogenic training: This relaxation method is based on autosuggestion. Here practitioners learn (usually under guidance) how to relax their own body using suggestive formulas in combination with rest. This is intended to strengthen the mental attitude of the practitioner, e.g. B. to master pain-related stress with self-confidence.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What helps quickly with neck pain?
In the case of painful tension in the neck and shoulder region, depending on the cause, warmth, traditional pain relievers, and light exercise to help stretch and relax muscles. If neck pain persists or worsens, medical advice should be sought to determine the cause.
When should neck pain be clarified by a doctor?
Please seek medical advice if
symptoms do not improve within 3 weeks
numbness or tingling in your arms
dizziness or blurred vision
severe restriction of movement
Please call the emergency doctor immediately
Neck pain associated with fever, cramps, severe headache, paralysis or loss of consciousness
Injuries to the cervical spine and/or head
What can you do about neck pain in the long term?
If the cause of the neck pain is tense muscles, you can:
do sports regularly (e.g. back-friendly yoga, tai chi, walking)
Train your neck muscles with special exercises
Practice relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training).
Optimize sleeping position, mattress and pillow
pay attention to a neck-friendly posture
How to relieve neck pain?
Neck pain caused by tension can be alleviated by the use of heat, painkillers, warming pain ointments as well as massage and relaxation exercises.
How long does it take for neck pain to go away?
In most cases, acute neck pain lasts about 1 to 2 weeks. If neck pain lasts longer than 3 months, it is called chronic neck pain. When neck pain flares up again and again after pain-free breaks, it is recurrent (recurring) neck pain.