If you live with chronic neck pain, you know how hard it can be to find relief from your symptoms.
You may feel like you’ve tried every treatment available, but here are three simple tips you may not have considered:
1. Stay hydrated
At birth, the discs between the vertebrae in your cervical spine (neck) are comprised of roughly 80 percent water. As you age, the ratio of water decreases—which can cause your discs to lose height, your spine to come out of alignment, and the pressure on your spine to increase.
Staying hydrated during the day may help prevent further degeneration of your cervical discs, and this in turn can help prevent neck pain.
Here are some ideas to help you drink more water:
- Keep a reusable water bottle in your car and at work.
- Set a daily water goal—women typically need 2.2 liters, while men need 3 liters.
- Pair your water intake with your daily habits. For example, drink a glass of water before you brush your teeth in the morning and evening.
2. Limit your hand-held phone use
Most people don’t think twice about it, but you may be provoking your neck pain by cradling your phone in your neck while you're talking—as this common habit results in extra strain on your cervical spine.
Additionally, many people add to the stress on their necks by staring down at their phones for an extended period of time. In fact, staring at your phone can place up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck muscles and ligaments.
Here are a few pointers on how to prevent phone-related neck pain:
- Purchase a Bluetooth or hands-free headset.
- When you're browsing on your phone or texting with a friend, try to hold your phone near eye level.
- Limit your phone use. This tip may sound simplistic, but the average American spends around 4 hours per day on their phone.
3. Try heat therapy to reduce your neck pain
In an age of amazing technology and medical advancements, it can be easy to overlook the benefits of heat therapy. But if you suffer from chronic neck pain, 20 minutes of applying a heating pad or hot water bottle may produce the following benefits:
- An increase in the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which helps encourage healing in your neck.
- The stimulation of sensory receptors in your skin, which hinders the transmission of pain signals to your brain.
- The stretching of soft tissues around your spine, which decreases the stiffness in your neck.
If your neck pain is severe, the above three tips may seem like they aren’t worth trying. But if they can provide even a little bit of relief from your chronic symptoms they are well worth the extra time and effort.