Alternative and home neck pain therapy

Alternative and home neck pain therapy

Most neck and back pain will get better with time.  However, there are many kinds of alternative and home neck pain therapy to help speed the recovery time and prevent further problems.  The first thing to do in the case of acute pain is to stop excess physical activity and make sure to consult your health professional for an accurate diagnosis.   One thing to note, complete bed rest has been found to be ineffective and may prolong the problem.  New evidence shows that maintaining some level of activity will help to relieve neck pain and also to relieve lower back pain.

I have found many of the following ideas to be helpful in relieving my neck and back pain, and sometimes combining a few treatment options is the most effective way to manage pain.  I hope this some of these ideas will help you as well.

Over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil may help when pain is acute. Topical anesthetics creams or pain patches may be helpful. Many patients find that heat therapy is soothing for a painful back or neck.  Heating pads or disposable heat packs can work.  I like using a traditional hot water bottle.  Many find relief from hot baths or a soak in a Jacuzzi.  Applying cold packs is another way to find relief.  Some doctors recommend applying cold packs alternately with heat packs.  Ice packs or frozen peas may be used for applying cold.  Cold packs should not be used for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.  Longer use may cause skin damage.  Try both heat and cold therapy to see what helps you.  Alternating between hot and cold can often be very effective, especially if your neck pain is acute.

Meditation is used by many people to manage stress, which can aggravate the pain.  Meditation can also be helpful to take the patient’s mind off the pain.  There are many good meditation CD’s available on the market to help you.  I find that meditation and guided relaxations are extremely helpful.  If you think back, you may notice a pattern where your neck pain is worse or aggravated during times that you are under more stress.  Relaxing your muscles can really make a difference in your pain level.  I listen to this audio CD regularly (or whenever I feel the tension in my neck and shoulders getting bad) which really helps.  I find it difficult to relax my muscles on my own.

Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees may be more comfortable when your back is painful.  Many people find that sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees is also helpful.  A good mattress and pillow are essential both to relieve pain and to prevent further back and neck problems.  If a new mattress isn’t an option, try a memory foam mattress topper that is ideally at least 3″ thick like this one.

Stretching exercises are also helpful.  If you have seen a physical therapist, follow the instructions the therapist has given.  There are many web sites that contain instructions for stretches to relieve and prevent back pain and neck pain.  There are stretches for people who sit at desks for long periods as well as stretches to do before beginning other activities.  Proper posture when sitting and standing is also important.  I really love Esther Gokhale’s book and DVD on posture, which really teaches you how to move, sit, and stand in a way that takes the strain off your neck and back.

Massage therapy has been shown to be good for painful backs and necks.  It has the added advantage of relaxing the patient as well as increasing flexibility, relieving depression, and improving sleep.  Make sure your massage therapist is aware that you are experiencing pain.  If you aren’t able to get a massage or afford one regularly, a good investment is a neck massage pillow.  I use this one regularly to ease the muscle tension in my neck.

To prevent the return of back and neck pain there are many steps you can take.  Moderate physical activity such as walking for about 2 and a half hours total a week can strengthen muscles and helps relieve stress which can aggravate the problems.  Some activities such as jogging, running, golf, and football should be avoided until acute pain has subsided, but swimming is an excellent low impact activity to stretch the muscles.

If you are overweight, do your best to get to a healthy body weight to avoid excess strain on the back and neck.

It has been found that smoking leads to discs that degenerate due to a reduction in oxygen reaching the tissues so quitting the habit would be beneficial if you are a smoker.

As with any physical problem, prevention is more effective than a cure.

 

Sources:

Arthritis Today.  “Getting Back at Back Pain.”  www.arthritistoday.org.

 

Healthfinder.gov.  “Prevent Back Pain.”  www.healthfinder.gov

 

Rover, Elena.  “What to Do About Back Pain.”  More Magazine.  www.more.com.

 

Schiel, William C. Jr. and Melissa Conrad Stoppler.  “Neck Pain.”  www.medicinenet.com.

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