Neck pain isn’t something you have to live with. Yet, millions of people wake up, grab a couple of Tylenol or another NSAID pain reliever, and try to go about their day. Some people, if the pain gets really intense, even resort to expensive diagnostic testing and surgery to help them find relief. Thankfully, there isn’t just one solution to finding relief from neck pain. Most cases of neck and back pain can actually be treated naturally with chiropractic, stretching exercises, and some simple lifestyle changes that also work to prevent the pain from happening again!
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a pretty common complaint. It can be caused by:
- too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone (tech-neck)
- reading in bed
- gritting your teeth
- worn joints or osteoarthritis
- injuries such as whiplash
- poor posture
- herniated discs
- degenerative disc disease
With a list like this, it’s no surprise that millions of adults (as well as some teens and kids) experience neck pain at some point in their lives.
Common symptoms of neck pain
Some common symptoms that indicate you are dealing with neck pain include:
- Neck or shoulder pain that gets works when you hold your head in one place for a long time (examples: driving, working at a computer)
- Stiff neck, muscle tightness, and spasms when you are doing normal daily activities
- Decreased range of motion in your neck rotation (you can’t turn your head as far as normal)
- Headaches from the extra tension in your neck muscles
Three Natural Pain Relievers
While it’s tempting to reach for Tylenol or NSAID pain relievers, both can have potentially dangerous side effects on your overall health. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ingredients to look for with your natural supplements to get relief from back and neck pain and the AlignLife recommended Aceva products you can find them in.
Boswellia (also known as Indian frankincense) is an herbal extract that is taken from the Boswellia serrata tree. Asian and African folk medicine have used this herbal extract for years. In research studies, Boswellia has also been shown to help reduce pain by inhibiting an enzyme that triggers the biosynthesis of pro-inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes. Aceva’s Mobility combines the anti-inflammatory powers of Boswellia with Tumeric and several other anti-inflammatory extracts to help improve overall joint function and naturally reduce inflammation and pain. Mobility is also formulated with BioPerine®, which enhances ingredient bioavailability and makes it fast-acting with longer-lasting results.
Omega 3 fish oil is known for its health benefits to your heart and cardiovascular system, brain health, skin health, and overall immune system. But it’s also commonly used to help fight inflammation throughout the body. Aceva carries two high-quality, naturally-sourced Omega 3 fish oil formulas that are burp-free and easy to take. They include Omega 3 Plus (easy-to-swallow softgel capsule) and Omega Longevity (liquid formula).
Found naturally in pineapple, Bromelain is a digestive enzyme that has long been used for reducing inflammation. Research has shown that it eases pain by decreasing the lipid compounds (prostaglandins) that induce inflammation. Bromelain has proven successful in the treatment of both acute and chronic pain and can be used to help reduce sinus inflammation, pressure, and pain. Bromelain can be found in the following recommended Aceva products: Gastro Plus, Aller-Aid, Sine-Aid, and Absolute Greens.
Easy neck exercises to help relieve neck pain
Certain neck exercises are geared toward releasing pent-up tension while others are designed to strengthen your neck and back to avoid repeated injury. Please note that if you have or have ever had a severe neck injury, consult with your chiropractor or doctor on medical advice or get assistance from a physical therapist before doing these exercises.
Child’s Pose, in general, is a great yoga position that relieves tension in your upper back and neck. It also helps gently stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles, can relieve stress fatigue and anxiety, and helps improve mental focus.
Here’s how to do a child’s pose:
- Sit on your heels on a yoga mat or on the floor with your knees apart or together.
- Slowly bend forward and lower your body to touch your head to the floor (make sure you are not putting weight on your neck)
- Reach your arms forward with your palms facing down to the floor.
- Gently press your chest on your down toward your thighs or between your thighs if your legs are apart.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then slowly come back up.
The chin-to-chest exercise may seem simple, but it’s an excellent stretch for relieving pain in your back or neck. You can easily do this exercise at work or home, and you can also do it standing or sitting… making it extremely versatile and easy to do.
To do a chin-to-chest stretch:
- Sitting on the edge of a stationary chair or standing, gently move your chin down toward your chest until you can feel the stretch in the back of your neck.
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then slowly bring your head up, so you’re looking at the ceiling. Hold for another 5-10 seconds.
- Repeat 5-10 times or as necessary.
- NOTE: Be careful not to tilt your head to either side while doing this stretch to avoid neck strain or injury.
Assisted Forward Neck Stretch
This exercise is a great one to do throughout your day, and it only takes a minute or two of your time total! It also helps you get a deeper stretch than doing it on your own. You can do this sitting or standing, and pretty much anywhere you’re at. Just don’t try to do this type of neck stretching and driving at the same time!
To do an assisted forward neck stretch:
- Sit on the edge of a stationary chair or stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Place both hands behind your head and lace your fingers together.
- Gently pull your chin down toward your chest until you feel a good stretch in the back of your neck (make sure not to pull to the point of pain).
- Hold the stretch 5-10 seconds, then slowly release the pressure and lift your head back up.
- Repeat several times each day.
The Neck Lift
The neck lift is another great strengthening exercise to help relieve and prevent neck pain. It’s also pretty easy to do, although since it requires laying down on your side, it’s not a do-anywhere-you’re-at type of exercise.
To do a neck lift:
- Lay down on your right side on a bed or a yoga mat.
- Bend your right arm to support your head and neck (your ear should be touching your wrist).
- Looking straight forward, carefully lift your head until your neck is as straight as it would be if you were sitting or standing upright. (One ear should point at the ceiling, the other at your bent arm.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds, then gently lower your head to rest on your arm.
- Repeat five times on each side, then flip to the opposite side.
The Bed Stretch
There are a surprising number of stretches you can do right in your bed. This particular stretch works your core and back muscles and helps relieve the tension in your neck.
To do a bed stretch:
- Lay face down on your bed. Dangle your head and arms off the bed.
- Using your core and back muscles, slowly lift your head upward. The top part of your chest should be raised slightly off the bed.
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds before lowering back down. Repeat five times.
Need help getting relief from neck pain?
Check out this article that shows you seven healthy habits to stop neck pain before it starts. We also encourage you to schedule a visit with your local AlignLife chiropractor to learn how we can help ease your neck pain, correct any subluxations you have, and provide you with personalized exercises to help build and strengthen your neck to prevent future injuries.