What causes neck pain?
Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors and can be difficult to pinpoint at times. Sometimes even the simplest daily activities may cause this pain, such as sleeping in an odd position. Other times trauma, such as a car crash, may be to blame. If you’re experiencing neck pain it’s understandable to want relief quickly. With stiffness, nagging pain, and decreased ability to move your head, neck pain can be, well a pain. In this article we will try to cover some basic home treatment as well as when to see the doctor about recurring or extreme neck pain that does not respond to home treatment.
Over the Counter
When neck pain strikes you want quick relief and there are many over the counter remedies that are available to do just that. From rubs, to creams, to pain pills we are bombarded on a daily basis by these many pain relief options. Below we’ll explore these options and what they can do for you.
- Pain relief creams, gels, sprays, and rubs- Enjoy localized relief from these remedies commonly containing menthol, a natural compound that changes the way pain is felt in an area. It may also cool the burning pain and provide increased circulation to the area. Other creams may contain capsaicin, a common compound found in chili peppers. This spicy extract can provide a warming sensation and increased circulation to sore muscles or joints for relief of pain quickly.
- Tylenol, Advil… and so much more- There are many pain relievers available over the counter as well. While all of them will provide pain relief, some like Aleve and Advil also provide relief from inflammation due to injury or arthritis. Aspirin also fights inflammation and provides pain relief, but it may not be for everyone. Those taking blood thinners or that have stomach diseases should not take aspirin. Tylenol is a safe choice in most cases and can provide steady pain relief throughout the day.
Natural relief for neck pain
If you aren’t quite ready to reach into your medicine cabinet for relief, there are some natural remedies that may be effective for neck pain. These are usually inexpensive and most are safe for most individuals. Of course if you have any doubts or concerns, be sure to consult your doctor before giving them a spin.
- Cold packs may provide some pain relief and can often help to reduce swelling or inflammation immediately after an injury. Ice can be used from up to 48 hours after an injury to provide comfort to the injured area. Remember to monitor the area for extreme cold while using cold packs and limit this therapy to 20 minutes per session with 2 hours in between to prevent cold injury or frostbite to the area. Monitor small children and the elderly when using this remedy.
- Heating pads or hot water bottles- Heat may help to relieve stiffness and provide increased circulation to injured areas for quicker healing. Be careful s with the cold packs to prevent thermal injury and limit sessions to only 20 minutes with a two hour break. Heating pads should not be used on very young children, the elderly, or those who cannot feel sensation well or could not remove the heating pad themselves.
- Gentle stretching or massage- Gentle stretching or massage may ease stiffness and will prevent joints from locking or muscles weakening. Be sure to use care though and if you feel that the pain is worsening stop and consult your healthcare provider.
When to see the doctor
If you have new or recurring neck pain, numbness, or weakness you should consult your healthcare provider. Injuries that don’t clear up within seven days are also cause for concern and may need medical treatment as well. Other causes for concern in neck pain are extreme stiffness, high fever with rash or lethargy. If these symptoms are present with neck pain please seek emergency medical treatment for the best outcomes possible.