For many living with chronic neck pain, conventional treatments such as medications or chiropractic care won’t always provide relief.
Some of our Spine-health Forum members have offered us a wealth of simple yet unique techniques for neck pain management, from their own experience. Keep in mind that not all of these are proven as evidence-based treatments for chronic neck pain, and you should speak with your doctor before beginning a new therapy.
Take a look at some of the best of forum members' neck pain treatments:
1. Stay hydrated
The discs between the vertebrae in your spine require water to maintain disc height and spinal alignment and to take pressure off the spine. Each individual spinal disc is roughly 80 percent water at when we're born, with this ratio decreasing as we age and the disc degenerates.
Over time, maintaining strong daily hydration habits may prevent further degeneration of cervical discs, which may reduce neck pain.
Here are tips for drinking more water:
- Some of our forum members have reported that carrying a 1-liter water bottle with them all day serves as a reminder to stay hydrated.
- Pair your water intake with your daily habits, such as drinking a full glass of water after each time you brush your teeth.
Watch: Text Neck Treatment Video
2. Be careful how you use your phone
One way you may not even realize that you’re aggravating your neck is by cradling your phone in your neck while you're talking. This puts unneeded strain on your cervical spine.
In addition, many people are starting to experience text neck by craning their neck down to look at their phone while they text or browse the internet.
Avoid neck pain from phone use with these tips:
- Use a Bluetooth or hands-free headset to make calls.
- When you're browsing or texting, hold the phone up high to decrease the angle at which you're holding your neck.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch your neck.
3. Get in the pool
Many Forum members note the therapeutic effects that swimming has on their neck pain, specifically in reducing inflammation, providing quick pain relief, and easing neck stiffness. Interesting tips have included:
- Getting the water level up to the neck and simply moving around.
- Squatting until the water reaches the chin, then moving back and forth and to the right and to the left.
- Using a swimming pool that is quite warm.
- Finding a stroke that is gentle on your neck for swimming laps, or consult with a physical therapist or other health professional for recommendations. Depending on your swimming skill, you may be able to do “Texas 25s”—either crawl or breaststroke—which is swimming a length of the pool without taking a breath. If you can do this, then you can get a lot of aerobic exercise without twisting your neck at all.
For some, swimming is too strenuous on the neck. In that case, water therapy, which is gentle exercise done in a warm swimming pool, is often a great alternative to land-based exercises.
4. See a physical therapist
It’s common to think of physical therapy as a treatment aimed at reducing symptoms from a given injury. While this is correct, physical therapy for the neck can also have other benefits, such as:
- Identifying secondary causes of pain.
- Teaching you how to reduce the risk of reinjury.
- Strengthening the weak areas of the neck through targeted exercises.
5. Consider acupuncture
Acupuncture provides varying degrees of neck pain relief for forum members. Some people swear by its effectiveness, while others note success about half of the time. Others get no relief from acupuncture.
One forum member raised the interesting point that the efficacy of acupuncture and deep tissue massage often depends on the skills of the practitioner, making it important for patients to research these treatment methods and to really understand how to identify a skilled professional.
6. Choose a neck-supporting chair
Maintaining good posture is a good way to keep neck pain under control. A headrest can help to keep your cervical spine in a neutral position, so consider getting an office chair with one...and using it. Also make it a point to use the headrest on your recliner and in your car, when you can.
7. Use ice therapy in unusual places
Neck pain may also be joined by nagging headaches and numbness or tingling in the back of the head, neck, shoulders, and hands.
Some forum members suggest putting ice on different areas of the body (such as between the thumb and index finger, on the bone behind the ear, on the indent between the middle of the eyebrow) to help achieve relief from such symptoms.
Learn more in the Heat and Cold Therapy Health Center
One creative forum member noted using a headband to secure the ice in these different spots and on the temple.
8. Increase magnesium intake
Neck pain is most frequently the result of a muscle strain or sprain. Increasing your intake of magnesium, a mineral that aids in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, may help avoid these pain causing problems.
- Magnesium is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, beans, soy products, and whole grains. Read the nutrition labels on products to see how much of your daily recommended amount of magnesium they provide.
- Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin by taking a bath with Epsom salt, or a similar supplement.
- Some forum members have reported success with the use of magnesium oil, which is applied directly to the skin after a warm shower or bath.
To prevent adverse reactions, you may want to consult with your physician before beginning use of any supplement or oil.
9. Use a water pillow
Some patients note the rejuvenating effects of water pillows that allow patients to dictate the firmness of their pillow. Specifically, more water equals a firmer pillow; less water provides a softer pillow.
These little-known tips have worked well to relieve others neck pain, and may work for you, as well. Do you have a preferred method from this list, or one not listed here? Let us know by leaving a comment on our Spine-health Forum.