Neck pain afflicts many people at some point in their life - two-thirds of American adults report having experienced at least one incidence of neck pain in their lives. You can strain your neck during exercise, at work, or even something as simple as turning over in your sleep. It's an ailment so common that it has even earned it's own colloquialism. But while your boss, neighbor, or even children can all be a real "pain in the neck" sometimes, so can the pain in your neck!
So how do you get rid of it? There are many treatments for neck pain relief, ranging from at-home remedies and physical therapy to alternative treatments like chiropractic and acupuncture.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can alleviate pain, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory aids (NSAIDS) reduce inflammation too. Surgery may be necessary to correct a displaced cervical disc. Deciding which therapy to undergo depends on factors like pain intensity and duration.
For severe acute neck pain resulting from an accident or injury, doctors recommend bed rest, a neck brace or collar, and cold treatment (such as an ice pack) for neck pain relief. Heat (such as that from a heating pad) and physical therapy are usually recommended for treating chronic neck pain. Physical therapy should address risk factors and preventative care along with providing neck pain relief. This may involve massage, electrical stimulation, stretching, exercise, or other modalities.
A recent European study divided patients into three groups for treatment. The group that received traditional Chinese acupuncture reported the most significant neck pain relief in the short term and over time, compared with those that underwent massage therapy or laser treatment.
Whether you choose massage, acupuncture, or physical therapy, it is important to find a certified professional whose skill you are confident in - any of these performed incorrectly can actually do more harm than good. Don't be afraid to try new therapies or combine several types of treatment together - your neck is unique, and your treatment can be too.