Well, well, well, it looks like we have some neck pain to talk about! Cervicalgia, (say what now???) as it’s technically called in the medical world, is a real pain in the neck...literally. There are more conditions that can arise in your neck than there are days in the week, but we'll give you the lowdown on the most common culprits, but first, we will take you through a brief anatomy lesson 😉
The cervical spines claim to fame is definitely its flexibility. It’s the only part of the spine that doesn’t have ribs or a heavy pelvis holding it back, granting it the flexibility to move your neck around in almost every direction. Okay, so not quite as flexible as an owl, but you get my point! Unfortunately, this incredible gift of mobility, can also be a curse, leading to an increased chance of injury.
The main responsibilities of the neck are to allow your head to turn. Obvious, I know! This gives you the ability to scan your environment for sensory input, safety reasons, learning, driving, curiosity and, quite literally, survival. One major benefit? It prevents your head from falling off your shoulders (sounds melodramatic, but let’s face it, that would be disaster 😆). All the while, the neck is also required to keep your eyes level with the horizon, which is extremely important when it comes to maintaining balance. So much pressure.
To achieve this great flexibility, the vertebrae in the cervical spine are small and plentiful, as well as there being a large number of muscles present to allow this multi-directional movement capacity, carefully balanced with the presence of ligaments to provide stability and prevent injury. It’s a lot of responsibility up there, balancing on your shoulders, so it’s not at all surprising to hear that there are quite a few things that can go wrong with this part of the spine.
So let's get to it! Here are some common neck conditions and what you can do to help:
First up, let’s talk about a doozy...disc injuries. Herniated discs are by no means exclusive to the cervical spine, and in actual fact, even though a disc bulge in the neck is less common than in the lumbar spine, the pain is undeniable. Depending on the severity of the damage to the disc, it can also lead to impingement of the nerve roots called spinal canal stenosis. Canal stenosis can lead to pain not only being felt at the neck, but also radiating down the arm, potentially all the way to the hand and fingers, depending on the nerve root level.
Waking Up With A Stiff, Painful Neck
It’s a sad start to the day when you wake up unable to move your neck. This can occur as a result of sleeping awkwardly, being up on too many pillows (more on this later), being half on and half off your pillow, (also not ideal) or with sudden movements in your sleep that can occur with vivid dreaming. The pain is usually coming from a muscle strain, but can also be the result of an acute muscle spasm, called acute torticollis. With a muscle strain you can normally keep your neck in a straight, neutral position, but trying to turn your neck tends to cause sharp pain, whereas an acute torticollis usually results in your neck being held in a twisted position and trying to straighten it causes pain. Either way, the muscles are what needs your attention. Increasing the blood flow using the a Wrap-On heat pack works well, as does lying on an Acupressure Mat, if you can manage it. For a neck strain the heat pack should be located at the back and side of the neck, compared to being at the front and side of the neck with acute torticollis. Remember to use the Kirofix® Injury Relief Lotion or Trauma Relief Cream (same amazing 100% natural product but in two different sizes) on the muscles too, as this will help give your muscles a great dose of muscle relieving magnesium and arnica, among other amazing ingredients!
Now let’s deep dive into a rapidly growing neck pain epidemic known as 'tech neck'. You know the one...that lovely condition that arises from staring down at your electronic device all day, every day. Kids are especially prone to this. Tech neck is a real thing and it can cause some serious neck pain and even headaches. The impact this ongoing posture has on your neck is painfully obvious, but for more information on what screen time is doing to your kids developing minds, check out our blog HERE.
Arthritis Of The Neck
Next up, we have Cervical Spondylosis. This is just a fancy-pants name for arthritis of the neck and it basically refers to the natural wear and tear that happens as we age. And let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger! Cervical arthritis is actually extremely common, with over 85% of people over the age of 60 being affected. 😳 But just because it's common doesn't mean it's not a pain in the neck (pun intended). You might be feeling some stiffness, pain, or even numbness in your neck or arms. But don't you worry, there are some simple solutions to ease your discomfort. With simple neck stretches and some cool products to start the healing process at home, you can still be the queen or king of your castle, even with a little Cervical Spondylosis. Keep reading below for tips on how to treat this.
Now, let's talk about a big one: Whiplash. This is the result of a sudden jolt or impact to the neck, and it can cause serious pain and discomfort. Most commonly this occurs as the result of a car accident, but it can also occur from a fall, or even accidentally stepping backwards onto the dog behind you and suddenly changing direction to make sure all of your weight doesn’t hurt her little paw (sadly I’ve had experience in this area 🙊). Usually this jolting motion results in the ligaments in the neck being sprained which appreciate the love and attention of Kirofix® Injury Relief Lotion and the Therapeutic Ultrasound to speed up the repair.
How Do We Treat The Neck?
One of the tricky things when it comes to neck pain is that it can be caused by so many different structures in the neck from the muscles and tendons, to the ligaments or discs, or even the vertebrae themselves. With each of the conditions mentioned above we would take a slightly different approach to treatment, but what is the same for all of these issues is that we need to address the inflammation and soft tissues to get relief from the pain. This is best done using the Kirofix® Injury Relief Lotion and the Therapeutic Ultrasound.
How To Use The Therapeutic Ultrasound For Neck Pain
First, apply the Kirofix® Injury Relief Lotion to the area of pain, followed by the Conductive Gel (either directly onto the skin or onto the Ultrasound treatment head). Turn the Ultrasound on, press the button to get to the pulsed setting (turn on, then three UP button clicks). Use the Ultrasound for 4-8 minutes over the painful area and then reapply the Kirofix® Injury Relief Lotion after you’ve wiped off the gel. The reason we recommend applying the Kirofix® first as well as after is that during the Ultrasound treatment, the sound waves help to drive the active ingredients of Kirofix® deeper into the affected site. If you have Cervical Spondylosis (arthritis of the neck), use the Bone Aid Relief Cream as well before the Ultrasound treatment because arthritis involves both bones and soft tissues. The Bone Aid Relief Cream will assist with healing the bone, whereas the Kirofix® will assist with all of the soft tissue healing (including the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and articular cartilage). Applying these two products provides the building blocks that the body requires to repair and regenerate, right where the body needs them most. After the Ultrasound treatment is complete and the gel has been wiped off, (always have a box of tissues handy!) all three creams can be reapplied. The third cream is Heativate® Relief Cream which assists in increasing blood flow to the area which is pertinent for healing.
Click HERE to read more about the Therapeutic Ultrasound.
Click HERE to read more about the Trio of healing creams.
Can You Do Cupping On The Neck?
Absolutely!! Tight muscles are commonly the trigger for neck issues, including the spasms of acute torticollis, muscle strains, the compression of the joints that occurs with arthritis and can even be a contributing factor to disc injuries. If you can alleviate the excessive pull that the muscles apply to the neck joints, you can fast track the healing of most of the issues that cause neck pain, and even prevent them in the future. Sign me up!! I know right?!?! With a Dr Kez Chirolab® Premium Vacuum Cupping set you can gain the same professional results in the comfort of your own home. Not only are you saving money, but you're recovering faster and preventing further painful episodes in the future. Win-win-win all around. To find out more about the Premium Vacuum Cupping Set click HERE
Can a TENS Machine Be Used On The Neck?
Yes it sure can. Neck pain can be quite intolerable and the TENS machine is a good way to give you a break from the pain. The theory behind the TENS machine is that the body can’t distinguish multiple neurological inputs from the same area of the body. So imagine for moment that you have neck pain (probably not hard for you to imagine if you’re reading this information), if we were to place the electrode pads over the top of that area of pain and turned on the electrical impulses, your body is then receiving two inputs in the same area and as a result the brain becomes confused, it begins to feel the tingling of the TENS sensation and no longer the pain. Brilliant! For more information of how the TENS machine works and the other 3 features of this amazing machine, click HERE.
What Else Can I Do To Help With Neck Pain?
See a health professional (or Dr Kez! 😉 )
While it’s great to have natural solutions to ease neck pain at home, sometimes neck problems need a bit of extra assistance. A visit to your Chiro or Osteo, might be a good move. They can work wonders on neck pain with their in-clinic treatments, and can offer exercises and stretching specific to your unique issue. I We would strongly recommend this if you’ve been trying home remedies and are still experiencing neck issues. In clinical practice, I find dry needling extremely effective in treating neck pain. Given what we demand of our neck day in and day out, the muscles surrounding the neck often accumulate trigger points which results in uneven pulls on the neck, resulting in limited range of movement, pain and often joint dysfunction. One thing we pride ourselves on at our clinic, Life Balance Adjustments, is treating holistically. Not only do we adjust the joint but also address the soft tissue imbalances that often lead to the joint dysfunction in the first place. We use modalities like dry needling and cupping to get the balance back into the muscles to encourage a nice and even pull on the joints as nature intended. If you cant get to a clinic, many practitioners have a Telehealth option, including us! They are great for advice onscreen to provide a tailored plan for you that could make all the difference.
Ensure you have a supportive contour pillow
Another great suggestion for speeding up the recovery of neck issues (or to wake up without them) is to ensure that you have a supportive contoured pillow to sleep on. A pillow that's too high or too low can lead to further aggravation of disc issues, ligament sprains or tendon strains, let alone what it is doing long term to the deterioration of an arthritic neck. To find out if your pillow is supporting your neck properly or causing more problems read HERE and watch the video on the page.
Stretch out your stiff muscles
Stretching is also a great way to ease neck pain. You can do simple stretches as seen in the video below to ease the tight muscles and to open up the cervical vertebrae to help with disc issues and arthritis. It may not seem like much, but trust me, it can make a world of difference.
Watch the video HERE
Hot and cold therapy
Another natural solution to ease neck pain is using heat or cold therapy. Use ice when you first do an injury as there is usually inflammation involved. A combination of ultrasound therapy and cold therapy can be extremely beneficial in reducing pain and eliminating inflammation. Once the injury is less acute (usually after 48 hours in the case of neck pain), you can switch to heat therapy, which is very effective for increasing blood flow and easing muscle tension. The use of a wrap on system for your ice or heat application is well worth investigating. The large wrap on ice systems comes with two large gel packs that can be used for either heat or cold. The beauty of this wrap on system is that you can continue about your day while the pack is held securely in place and it compresses nice and tightly against your neck. If you’re unsure of whether to use heat or ice, check out the Wrap-On-Ice page HERE and it has a video for some hot tips, that will cool your curiosity 😉
And last but not least, make sure you're practicing good posture. This means keeping your shoulders back, your head upright, and your chin tucked in. Sorry if I sound like your mother...but she has a point!
Take a look at our Facebook video HERE: We take you through some stretches and exercises to help balance the muscles around your middle back which will help bring your neck into optimal alignment.
So, there you have it, folks. Neck pain can be a real pain in the neck, but it doesn't have to be. By seeing a Chiro, stretching, using hot or cold therapy, practicing good posture and using some at-home modalities like the Therapeutic Ultrasound, Vacuum Cupping and a 4-in-1 TENS machine, you can get back to feeling like your old self in no time!