Chronic neck pain symptoms can flare up without notice and disrupt your busy day. Here are 3 essential items that can help provide some relief, making life with chronic neck pain a little easier.
1. New pillow
If you ever wake up with a stiff neck or neck pain that has worsened overnight, your pillow may be responsible.
For back sleepers with chronic neck pain, a thick or firm pillow that causes your neck to angle forward when you lie down may be exacerbating your pain in the morning. Try a thinner pillow instead. A cervical pillow, sometimes called an orthopedic pillow, is a possible solution. This option is shaped with the center of the pillow curved inward to better support the natural curves of the head and cervical spine. The idea is to keep your neck neutral rather than flexed forward.
There are many other options that achieve a similar effect, including a neck roll or even a soft, flat pillow tucked under the base of the skull.
For side sleepers, a medium-sized pillow or body pillow may help keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. Water pillows and adjustable pillows, which allow you to control the firmness and height of the pillow, are also options to consider.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong pillow, just the pillow that brings you the most comfort and pain relief. Experiment with different types of pillows and see which works best for your neck.
2. Heating pad
Applying heat therapy can be a convenient way to ease neck pain. When you apply heat to the affected area, local blood vessels are dilated, increasing blood flow to the painful area. Heat therapy can also warm up your neck muscles, reducing tightness and allowing for greater flexibility.
An electric heating pad is a popular option for heat therapy. Most versions of this device allow you to control the temperature settings, so you can select the temperature that’s most comfortable for you.
If you want an option that provides moist heat and/or allows you to move around while using it, there’s a homemade solution you can try. Fill an oversized sock with rice, tie or sew the end shut, and heat it up in the microwave to your desired temperature.
Whenever you apply heat therapy, be careful to avoid putting it directly on your skin. Make sure a t-shirt or cloth is used as a buffer. Follow any directions carefully and regularly check your skin for burns or discoloration.
3. Hands-free phone
Holding a phone between your head and shoulder while talking is a common way to aggravate your neck. This position places undue strain on the cervical spine and can trigger a muscle spasm.
Avoid neck pain by using a Bluetooth earbud or hands-free headset to make your calls.
If you find yourself regularly craning your neck down to text or browse on your phone, buy a phone holder that sticks on the back and can pop up to provide a grip. This little gadget helps you hold the phone higher and reduce the angle at which you typically bend your neck.
These items won’t solve your underlying neck condition, but they may help you manage the pain.