Pain in the Neck: Home Therapies to Try on Your Own
By Brooke Chaplan
If you suffer from frequent neck or back pain, you are not alone. Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans. For these Americans, pain management is an all-too-real part of everyday life. If you struggle with managing your pain, here area few home remedies to try.
Natural Pain Relievers
Essential oils have been hailed by the natural medicine community as revolutionary, and with good reason. Essential oils can balance hormones, speed up metabolism, or soothe skin conditions. For pain management, try these essential oils:
- Wintergreen:Wintergreen is one of two plants that containsmethyl salicylate, the main ingredient in aspirin. Wintergreen oil can be either ingested or diluted and applied topically for relief of muscle pain, joint pain, andheadaches.
- Lavender: Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils. Diffused aromatically, lavender can relieve tension and anxiety. Applied directly to the skin, lavender oil can be used to treat muscle strain, cramps, and tension.
- Marjoram: Marjoram oil works as a natural sedative and muscle relaxant. It can be used to alleviate severe pain resulting from migraines and arthritis as well as ease muscle tension and soreness.
- Sandalwood: Sandalwood oil has successfully been used to combat the pain of chronic muscle spasms and sciatica. The oil is usually diluted with coconut oil, and can be applied directly to the affected body partor to the bottoms of the feet to promote overall wellness.
You may also want to consult with a natural healer about adding supplements like ginger, fish oil, and turmeric to your diet to aid in your long-term pain management.
Mild physical activity builds muscle strength and encourages natural healing. Low-impact activities such as swimming, yoga, and stationary cycling are a great place to start. If, however, you are unable to exercise due to chronic pain, you may want to start with basic stretching.
Muscle exercises relieve tension, improve your range of motion, and reduce discomfort. Try these basic stretches to begin managing your chronic pain:
- Neck: From a seated position, lower your chin toward your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Then, lean your head back as far as you are able without discomfort. Slowly rotate your head clockwise, and then counterclockwise. If you have the time, practice neck extensions (lowering your ear toward your shoulder).
- Chest: “The Clock” or “Pec Stretch” can be used to relieve upper and middle back pain. Stand parallel to a wall and place your hand up on the wall at “12 o’clock.” Slowly rotate your hand down and backward toward the “3 o’clock” position. Be sure to breathe deeply while stretching. Step away from the wall if you notice any tingling in your extended arm.
- Arms:You can do this stretch using an exercise or yoga strap, or with a belt. Extend your arms above your head, shoulder-width apart. Aim your palms outward with the strap stretched between them. If you cannot straighten your elbow, move your arms farther away from your body. Lower your chin to your chest and take several deep breaths.
Stretching should be a painless exercise. If you experience sharp pain while stretching, slow down. If the pain persists, consult with an expert like Alberta Back & Neck Rehab, a center for pain management in Calgary, about your long-term treatment and exercise options.
Relaxing activities such as meditation and massage will also help you manage your pain. Have a friend or family member gently knead the affected area of your back or neck. Be sure to give frequent direction as to the speed, location, and intensity of the massage.
If you don’t have a helper on hand, use these steps for self-massage:
- Relax. Taking a warm bath or shower may help.
- Lie on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Put a small ball, such as a tennis ball or stress ball, under your lower back.
- Relax against the ball. Take continuous deep breaths. Hold the position for a few seconds, then shift the ball to another location that might need to release some tension.
Do not use a ball any harder than a tennis ball for this exercise. If using even a tennis ball is painful, consider using a small, soft rubber ball with more give instead.
Chronic pain can be frustrating, debilitating, and scary, but there is hope. Use these at-home treatments and consult with a medical professional to help you manage and overcome your pain.