The neck is made up of ligaments, tissue, muscle, bones and nerve cells, not to mention the blood vessels. For this reason, there are many factors that can lead to neck pain. Different conditions can cause pain in the area around the neck.
A number of these conditions can be fatal, for instance trauma to the head and neck, as well as the manifestation of a heart attack. In many cases however, neck pain results from straining of the muscles. While neck strain is common, it is important to get checked by a professional in the case of trauma or suspected heart attack.
Neck pain results from tissue injury found in the neck. One of the most common injuries is a whiplash injury. Whiplash is fairly recurrent, yet many people are unaware of the harm that it poses in the neck region. Disorders that affect the nerves in the neck also cause this ache, as does degeneration of the spinal discs. Spraining of the neck is also a common occurrence.
When this occurs, neck muscles become taut in order to protect the injured area. Consequently, mobility is limited and motion becomes impeded. To treat this, the solution lies in remedies which will eliminate the tension in the muscles, while enhancing motion. Remedies which increase blood circulation in the affected area also speed up recovery in patients suffering from neck aches.
There are a number of natural remedies that exist to help deal with neck pain. Most of the remedies use ingredients that are easy to get. Some of the remedies do not require any ingredients per se, and simply need you to massage or apply traction to the affected region. These simple remedies go a long way in alleviating pain in the neck, a seemingly simple thing but one which can easily hamper your day-to-day activities.
1. Manual Traction:
Time Required: 10 Min per session.
What You Need: A clean hand towel
The purpose of applying traction gently to the neck area is to stretch the taut muscles while providing relief in the affected region.This remedy has the benefit of releasing pinched nerves and easing compression in the blood vessels. This is important when you have neck pain because taut muscles tend to cause the contraction of cells in the immediate surrounding. Gentle traction not only aims to reduce the pressure of the affected region, it also attempts to develop more space. This enhances the circulation of blood to the neck’s muscles, therefore improving healing. Note that this method requires two people – the affected person and the person carrying out the traction.
- First fold the hand towel (lengthwise) as you will need it for this remedy.
- Lie down facing upwards, and place the folded towel at the point where the skull merges with your neck. This part of the body is referred to as the occiput.
- Allow your friend to tug at the towel gently, making sure the direction of their pull is straight and towards them.
- Your friend ought to try and maintain this position for at least 4 minutes.
- This home remedy can be repeated thrice daily or until the neck ache subsides.
2. Acupressure for Neck Aches:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: None
Acupressure is a variation of acupuncture, an alternative form of medication that incorporates traditional Chinese medication passed down from ancient civilizations. The latter involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points in the body. These points are referred to as acupuncture points. In acupressure therapy however, the needles are eliminated and pressure is applied at the specific acupuncture points in the neck.
This acupressure point is located at the back part of the hand, right between the bones located in the sunken part a little past the knuckle region of the middle finger and the pointer finger. This technique is known as Luo Zhen, and has been shown to be effective for treating a stiff neck. Note that you may need someone to help you with this home remedy.
- Determine where the pain is in the neck. Is it on the left or the right? Once you have established this, the next step involves gently massaging the area that lies in the opposite side of where the pain is. What this means is that if the pain is in the left part of your neck, you should massage the right part of the hand. The reverse is true. When massaging this region, the recommended way to get the job done is to apply gentle pressure at the acupuncture point described above.
- As you do this, make sure you maintain your posture while creating gentle circles.
- While you do this, make effort to rotate the neck from one side to the other, a gentle form of exercise. When done concurrently, this remedy ensures a decrease in the neck pain, often in the same proportion as the range of motion increases.
- At the onset, this home remedy may not seem to yield any results, but ensure that you carry on for about 30 minutes. With these first two methods, it is important to note that patience is key. Since there are no external remedies used, persistence goes a long way in using these techniques.
3. Ice Pack:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Ice cubes and plastic bag. In the absence of ice cubes, frozen peas can be used.
Ice is one of the simplest home remedies for a wide range of conditions. The chilling temperatures of the ice cubes help decrease inflammation and offer temporal relief from the pain.
- Place the ice cubes in the plastic bag. If the ice cubes are too big, you could always grind them to create smaller and more effective ice cubes. Smaller cubes are preferred because they have a greater surface area for the reduction of inflammation.
- Put the ice pack on your neck for 10 minutes per session. Repeat this procedure every four hours over a period of 24 hours or until you start to experience relief.
Note that you should NEVER allow the ice cubes to come in direct contact with your skin. The reason for this is that doing so always places you at the risk of getting a frost bite.
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Hot/cold water shower
Hydrotherapy is an efficient home remedy for dealing with neck pain. Since this simple remedy can be done at home, take advantage of its efficiency. The idea is to let the jet of cold water hit the aching part of the neck with force in order to reduce the inflammation while the alternation with hot water helps improve the circulation of blood in the neck region.
- Aim the shower head at the neck region and switch it on to release the hot water for about five minutes.
- Immediately switch to cold water and target the aching pat of the neck for a minute.
- Repeat the procedure for at least 30 minutes.
5. Lavender Oil:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Lavender oil for massage purposes, a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oils.
Lavender oil is an effective home remedy for dealing with pain in the neck. It is an excellent massage oil. Massage is one of the techniques used to relieve soreness as it reduces the tension in the muscles. In fact, this has been shown to help patients sleep better.
- Take a hot shower to allow your muscles lose the tension and get rid of the soreness.
- Place three drops of lavender oil in a small bowl and add the choice carrier well.
- Mix the two well and dab some of the mixed oil on the neck. Massage gently for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat the procedure as often as required.
6. Epsom Salt Bath:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Cups of Epsom salt
An Epsom salt bath is one of the most effective remedies for pain in the neck. Epsom salt is chemically referred to as Magnesium sulfate. The reason why this is one of the most effective remedies revolves around the fact that the Magnesium and sulfate penetrate the skin with relative ease, making the Epsom salt bath the go-to remedy. The presence of Magnesium in the salt helps reduce inflammation as well as improve the functioning of the muscles. The Sulfates on the other hand, are effective in eliminating toxins from the body. This combination makes for an excellent remedy.
- Mix your warm bath water with two cups of the Epsom salt.
- Soak in the mixture for about 20 minutes, making sure that the water level is accessible at the neck region.
- Repeat this procedure twice daily, for a period of time until the pain in the neck subsides.
NB: Due to the constituent ingredients of the Epsom salts, this remedy is not ideal for patients who have been diagnosed with heart conditions, increased blood pressure or diabetes.
7. Use Heat Wraps or Make Your Own Heat Pack:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Single-use heat wraps / DIY heat pack. For the latter, you need fabric/old sock, filling, needle and thread, and a microwave.
Heat wraps are designed to offer heat therapy at the precise location where it is required. In addition, the design of the heat wraps fits snugly on the neck, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of slow-release heat relief in the course of your day. The single wraps work excellently for the neck area, providing relief by allowing the heat cells to seep through to the deep-seated tissue. This improves circulation of the blood, reduces pain and speeds up healing.
- Simply apply the heat wrap to the affected area of the neck, and let it stay in place for the indicated period of time.
- If you do not have access to these heat wraps, you can always improvise and make your own. Below are the steps you need to follow to make a handy heat pack designed for your neck.
i) Choose a fabric that will be easy to microwave to create the heat wrap. Choice fabrics in this regard include cotton, fleece or muslin. Alternatively, use a thick long sock (this will eliminate the need to sew the fabric). Avoid fabrics with embellishments.
ii) Take your neck measurements to sew the fabric accordingly / cut the sock to fit.
iii) Select what filling you would like to use for the neck wrap. You could choose from rice, oatmeal beans and even millet seed. Make sure you avoid instant rice as this can easily cook in the microwave.
iv) You may choose to add an essential oil to help relax your neck muscles and get rid of tension. Some of the best choices include lavender oil, peppermint oil or rose oil.
v) Cut the fabric to size (Skip this step if you decide to use the socks) and sew accordingly, ensuring that you leave one end open.
vi) Pour your choice filling into the pack, making sure not to fill the wrap completely. This is because if overfilled, the pack will not adhere to the neck’s natural contours, and this will make it very uncomfortable for you.
vii) Sew the remaining end and the pack is ready for use.
viii) Prior to using it, microwave the pack for about 2 minutes. If the it still feels cold, continue to microwave it in intervals of one minute.
ix) Place the heat pack on your neck, above your shoulders and let it stay in place until it cools, usually after about 15 minutes. Repeat the warming process and use the pack until you start to get relief.
Coupled with neck exercises, these home remedies will work perfectly for you if you would like to effectively deal with the discomfort that comes with neck aches. Persistent aches, however, warrant professional medical attention as this could be indicative of a more deep-seated issue.