No one needs another thing to shoulder when they’re going through a stressful time. Unfortunately, the stress that you’re experiencing may do just that – in the form of neck and shoulder pain.
“Long-term stress can cause us to hold tension in our neck and shoulders,” explains Melissa Vaughan, CNP with ProMedica Physicians Spine Care. “The more stress we hold, the more tension, and therefore, the more pain.”
How To Improve Neck Pain
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to relieve some of the physical pain you are experiencing, and hopefully some of the stress along with it.
- Move daily. Make time each day for some movement and stretching. Whether your choice of exercise is yoga or weightlifting, movement can be great medicine. “Stretches and exercises help build the muscles around the neck and spine to provide improved support and stability, which can reduce wear and tear and pain,” Vaughan shares.
- Improve your posture. Whether you’re seated or standing, be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Focus on realigning yourself as you think of it.
- Utilize heat and ice. Alternate heat and ice on the affected area. Apply each for 15 to 20 minutes before switching to the other temperature.
- Take over-the-counter medicines. The use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, creams, ointments and patches can help relieve pain.
When To See a Doctor
If your neck pain doesn’t improve, talk to your primary care provider or spine care expert to see if there could be an underlying issue for your pain.
If determined necessary, additional testing may be performed such as an X-ray, or other advanced imaging such as a CT scan or MRI. “These images reveal things like fractures, slipped vertebras, degenerated or herniated discs, nerve compression and more,” Vaughan shares. “The provider is then able to provide a diagnosis based on the imaging and the patient’s symptoms upon examination.”
In addition to the discussed home treatment options, formal treatments are available to help improve the condition causing you pain. “Formal treatments include physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain management and neurosurgical or orthopaedic spine surgery consultation if necessary,” Vaughan shares.
Don’t let neck pain hold you back. Talk to your doctor today about what treatment options might be available to you.