14 Sep 2022

How to Relieve and Prevent Neck Pain at Home

By Charles Herbert

If you’ve ever woken from a bad night’s sleep with a stiff neck, or suffered discomfort due to long hours working at a desk, then you’ll know how difficult neck pain can be. Neck pain can range from mild stiffness at best, to excruciating pain at the worst, but no-one wants to go about their day to day activities in pain or discomfort. 

You don’t have to suffer needlessly, and there are steps you can take to help relieve and prevent neck pain at home. It’s still important to consult a professional if the pain is severe or long lasting, but if you’re looking for ways to manage mild neck pain at home, read on for our handy guide. 

Neck pain symptoms

Neck pain symptoms can vary, and the pain can range from a mild dull ache, to debilitating pain which prevents you from performing day to to day activities. If you’re experiencing neck pain, it’s likely that you’ll have at least one (or a combination of) the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • A stiff neck
  • Difficulty or pain when turning your head from side to side
  • General soreness
  • A sharp or stabbing pain
  • Muscle tightness

It’s important to seek medical advice if your neck pain is severely interfering with your day to day life, or if it’s the result of an accident or injury. If you’re experiencing numbness, weakness or tingling alongside the neck pain, seek advice from your chiropractor or GP. 

How to relieve neck pain at home

Remember that it’s still important to see a doctor if you’re suffering from persistent neck pain, especially after an accident or injury. In the meantime, there are still steps you can take to help relieve and manage the pain at home, such as: 

  • Apply heat or ice – Ice can help to reduce inflammation by restricting blood flow to an area, while heat can be used to stimulate blood flow. Alternating between the two helps to soothe sore or overworked muscles; for example you might want to take a warm bath and then apply an ice pack to the area. Remember to use a cold compress specifically designed for this purpose, or wrap an ice pack in a towel to prevent it from directly touching the skin. 
  • Gentle stretching – Stretching is a highly effective way to reduce pain and stiffness, and it can also help to prevent pain in the future. It’s very important to stretch gently and slowly, and stop the movement if you feel large amounts of resistance or sharp pain. Some good stretches and exercises for neck pain include shoulder circles, slowly turning the head from side to side, and gently extending the neck by looking up and down. 
  • Over the counter medications – Over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen can provide relief from neck pain, as well as reducing the overall inflammation in the body. Always follow the instructions and don’t exceed the recommended dose – if painkillers have failed to reduce the pain in any capacity, speak to your doctor. 
  • See a physical therapist – A doctor may refer you to a physical therapist (PT) if your neck pain is the result of an injury. PTs can also help with chronic pain management and relief, as well as providing exercises that can be performed at home. Your PT will create a tailored plan depending on the cause and severity of your neck pain. 
  • Chiropractic treatmentA visit to a chiropractor is another great way to relieve neck pain while you wait for a doctor or hospital appointment. Chiropractors specialise in manipulating the spine to relieve pressure on stiff joints or muscles and we’ll discuss how they can help in more detail further on!

How to prevent neck pain

There can be many causes behind neck pain, including injuries, stress and poor posture. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help prevent neck pain from occurring, or to reduce the chances of it returning. If you want to help prevent neck pain, consider the following as part of your everyday routine:

  • Adjust your posture – Good posture is essential to help prevent neck pain, especially if you spend hours sitting in the same position. When standing or sitting, your shoulders should be in a straight line over the hips, with the ears directly above the shoulders. When using a smartphone or tablet, try and hold the device at eye level, instead of craning the neck downwards to read the screen. 
  • Take frequent breaks – If you work long hours sitting at a desk or computer, remember to take frequent breaks to stretch and move around. 
  • Set up an ergonomic workspace – Many of us have continued to embrace hybrid working, so it’s important to have the right set up in your home, office, or wherever you choose to work. Adjust the height of your desk, chair and computer so the monitor is at eye level and your knees are slightly lower than your hips. It’s worth asking your employer if there is any budget for equipment if your current set up is unsuitable or causing you pain.  
  • Sleep in a healthy position – If you’ve ever fallen asleep unexpectedly and woken up with a stiff neck, then you’ll know the impact your sleeping position can have! Aim to sleep on your side or your back, as this puts less strain on your neck. Your head and neck should be aligned with your spine, so consider investing in a new pillow if you’re currently not getting enough support. 
  • Reduce stress – Stress can cause us to tense the muscles in our neck, shoulders and back, so reducing stress levels can be very effective to help prevent neck pain and stiffness. Meditation, exercise and ensuring you have time for hobbies are some effective ways to reduce stress. 
  • Stay active – Regular exercise can help to relieve stress-related neck pain, and it also strengthens the muscles to reduce the chances of injury. The best type of exercise is something you enjoy, whether that’s lifting weights, walking, dancing, swimming or anything else that gets you moving!
  • Avoid carrying weight on one side – Try to avoid carrying heavy bags with one strap (like a satchel) over one shoulder. This puts extra strain on the neck, especially if it’s occurring daily. Look for a bag with extra support, like a backpack with an additional waist strap to take the pressure off the neck and shoulders. 

When to seek treatment for neck pain

If you’re struggling to relieve your neck pain symptoms at home, it may be time for professional treatment. We would advise you to contact your GP if: 

  • The pain or stiffness has not gone away or improved after a few weeks
  • Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen have had no effect
  • The pain is interfering with your everyday activities
  • You have other symptoms, such as pins and needles or numbness in your arm. 

Can a chiropractor relieve neck pain? 

If you’re looking for further professional treatment to help relieve and manage neck pain, a chiropractor is a great option. Chiropractors are fully qualified to perform spinal manipulation, which can be used to free stiff or restricted joints. Your chiropractor will perform a full assessment during your initial consultation to get an accurate diagnosis of what could be causing your neck pain. 

Chiropractic can also pinpoint the underlying cause of your neck pain, whether that’s a trapped nerve, poor posture or tight and sore muscles. Identifying the underlying causes means they can put together an appropriate treatment plan, to not only relieve your current symptoms, but reduce the chances of the pain recurring in the future. 

Book a consultation at Kasa Chiropractic today

If you’re looking for a Bristol Chiropractor to help manage your neck pain symptoms, we can help. To make an appointment with one of our skilled practitioners, or to manage an existing appointment, click here to use our online booking system. We look forward to welcoming you to our Southville or Clifton chiropractic clinic very soon!