Neck and shoulder pain are common health problems and they’re not usually a major cause for concern. However, this doesn’t stop them causing distress and affecting people’s quality of life. So, if you’re suffering from discomfort in your neck or shoulder, now could be the time to take action. To help you along the way, here are some simple but effective self-care tips.
Relieve The Pain
To alleviate the discomfort, try taking over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen. These medicines can usually control mild aching and soreness. Alternatively, you can use pain-suppressing gels that you apply to the skin over the affected area. Whether you’re taking tablets or using gels though, make sure you always follow the dosage instructions provided with the treatments. Some people also find that hot or cold packs offer an effective form of relief, so it may be worth testing these options out too. Cold packs are suitable in the first 48 hours following an injury to minimise any inflammation, with heat packs used after this to soothe and relax the area as well as improving circulation to aid recovery.
Another pain lowering treatment is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Available from pharmacies, TENS machines work by delivering small electrical impulses to the parts of your body that are sore. These impulses, which you should feel as a mild tingling sensation, are passed from electrodes that you attach to your skin. They offer relief by disrupting the pain signals that would normally travel to your brain and spinal cord. The devices also trigger the release of endorphins, which are the body’s own natural painkillers that help to reduce discomfort.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture can help too. For example, don’t use too many pillows when you go to bed at night as this can cause your neck to bend too much, putting pressure on this part of your body. Instead, try resting your head on one low, firm pillow. Do your best to keep a healthy, straight posture when you’re sitting and standing as well. Slouching may worsen your condition and it might have even triggered it in the first place.
Avoid Activities That Could Aggravate The Problem
It’s also wise to steer clear of activities that could aggravate the pain. For example, if you neck is affected and you find it hard to turn your head, you may benefit from not driving until the discomfort has subsided. Meanwhile, if you’re suffering from a frozen shoulder, try not to lift your arms up over your head.
Do Some Gentle Exercises
Although you shouldn’t overdo it, some gentle exercises could help. For example, if your neck is stiff, try gently tensing the muscles in it as you move your head from side to side and up and down. This could enhance your range of motion. In general, you should carry on moving the affected joints to help ensure they don’t seize up.
These self-help techniques should reduce your pain and speed up your recovery. However, if your condition hasn’t improved after a few weeks, you suspect the problem could have a serious cause or regular painkillers aren’t controlling your discomfort, you may benefit from arranging an appointment with your doctor.