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Neck Pain

Do you suffer from neck soreness?  If so, you’re not alone! In fact, throughout the course of a lifetime about half of all people will experience neck pain needing treatment (Cohen, 2015). The severity of these symptoms can range from a minor annoyance to debilitating pain. A recent study found that neck pain was ranked the 4th highest cause of short and long term disability throughout the world (Cohen, 2015). Although neck pain can come from specific events like motor vehicle accidents or sport-related injuries, the most common causes are related to activities of normal daily life. Stress, poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, previous history of neck pain, and a job that requires frequent sitting all lead to a greater likelihood of experiencing neck pain.

What can you do at home?

  • Use ice if the pain is related to a recent injury. Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes,

2-3 times per day

  • Use heat if the pain persists for more than one week. Apply a heating pad or warm shower for 15 minutes, 2-3 times per day

  • Try over-the-counter pain relievers

  • Keep your neck and shoulders moving!

  • Shoulder rolls- move your shoulders backward and downward 10 times

  • Shoulder blade squeezes- squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times

  • Neck side bend- tilt your ear towards your shoulder 10 times each side

  • Head nodding- slowly move your head to look downward, then upward through a pain-free range

  • Chin tucks- gently tuck your chin (give yourself a double chin) while moving your head backward. Hold that position for 5 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 10 times

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  • Evaluate how you sleep- are you waking up with neck pain/stiffness? It could be related to how you sleep

    • Use a pillow that supports your neck

    • Avoid sleeping on your stomach- this can twist your neck into awkward positions and worsen symptoms

  • Have your spouse, or an at home device  gently massage the sore areas in your neck

  • Exercise! Studies show that exercise improves neck stiffness and pain

What can you do in the work place?

  • Try to maintain a proper posture. An example is provided below!

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  • If you sit at a desk make sure your monitor is at eye level  and your arms are supported with arm rests

  • Keep your neck moving! You can do this by taking short, frequent breaks. Staying in the same position for long periods of time will allow the neck to stiffen up

Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Neck Pain

Cohen, Steven P. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 90, Issue 2, 284 - 299

Our Injuries & Conditions resource is for informational purposes only.  Do not diagnose, self treat, or attempt any exercises from the content on this site without contacting Ability Physical Therapy, your physician or a qualified specialist first.

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