6 Helpful Tips For Managing Chronic Neck Pain
by AZ Pain Doctors, on Feb 3, 2022 12:10:00 PM
Chronic neck pain can be a frustrating condition to deal with. It can affect both the young and athletic as well as the elderly, limiting not only their mobility but also their ability to rest in comfort.
Dealing with chronic neck pain is a lifelong issue for many Americans. That said, there are several pain management strategies that can help reduce your pain or, in some cases, erase it entirely.
Tip #1: Apply a Heat Treatment
One worthwhile pain management practice to try is the application of heat. Heat treatments are easy to do yourself and highly affordable. Heat therapy can improve circulation and blood flow, relieving tension and soothing discomfort.
When treating your neck with heat, you want the medium you are using (i.e., heating pads, hot water, wet towels, etc.) to be fairly hot but not so hot as to burn or cause pain.
For minor stiffness or tension, apply heat to the affected area for about 30 minutes. If your pain is more severe, it may be beneficial to apply heat for an hour or more.
Avoid heat therapy if you suffer from certain medical conditions that increase your risk for burns or complications due to heat application. Two common examples of such conditions include multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
Tip #2: Consider a Cold Treatment
Cold therapy (also called cryotherapy) is another home treatment you can do yourself. It's a better option than heat treatment for certain types of pain, such as pain due to swelling or inflammation.
Use a cold gel pack or similar option and apply it to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time, taking a break to prevent causing nerve damage due to overcooling.
The treatment shouldn't hurt and you should never apply ice directly to your skin, instead wrapping it in something like cloth. If using ice, one common method to cool safely is to put ice in a bag and then that bag in a pillowcase.
Cold therapy should be avoided if you suffer from cardiovascular or heart disease, as it can temporarily reduce circulation. People with dulled nerve sensitivity should also avoid it, as that can make it harder to detect if you're applying the treatment in a way that might be hurting your body.
Tip #3: Try CBD but Ignore the Hype
The medical community's relationship with CBD is complicated. It is understudied and underregulated. It is also not without risk, with CBD able to interfere with some medications and increase the risk of certain liver issues.
That said, some studies have shown it can be beneficial in a number of applications. A few have specifically shown it to help with chronic pain, including one that looked at neuropathic pain.
When considering CBD, it is important to put aside the many marketing claims companies make regarding their products. However, it is generally a safe enough substance to try if your pain is serious, as a supplement to more robust treatments.
If you want to try CBD, consult a medical professional about possible dosages that might help you. They also can point any risks CBD may pose to you, based on your medical history and any medications you are taking.
Tip #4: OTC Painkillers Can Be an Effective Stopgap
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help treat pain and reduce mild swelling. While it is unlikely they would fix your pain entirely, they can make a good stopgap solution as you work to find a more effective treatment plan.
While these drugs generally have only mild side effects, prolonged use or use by people in certain risk groups can still do damage. Stomach ulcers and liver damage are two such examples.
In some cases, prescription painkillers may also be used to treat chronic pain. However, prescription painkillers can be addictive and carry more serious side effects. They should only be taken if prescribed by a medical professional.
Regardless, always consult a medical professional if you intend to take any medication long-term. They can help inform you of any risks and develop a more robust treatment plan to help manage pain.
Tip #5: Consult a Pain Professional
When managing pain for weeks or months, it is important to consult a medical professional. Even if the pain is not severe, it is not "normal" to suffer from chronic pain and there is likely a professional treatment to erase or reduce your symptoms.
For neck pain, we recommend seeing a medical professional who specializes in that kind of pain treatment. Our facility has a number of experts on the subject and a wide array of tools to identify the specific cause of an individual's pain and begin treating it.
Working with a pain management professional can return you to functionality and has the potential to make your life pain-free again. Our facility also accepts most major insurance plans; a referral from your primary physician will usually suffice and some plans don't even require that.
Tip #6: Rest Has Real Benefits
For many individuals, chronic pain comes in waves. Some days, it may seem especially bad and on others, it may be a background element of your day if it is present at all.
Furthermore, certain activities can exacerbate neck pain, such as heavy exercise. If your pain seems worse than usual, you should take a break and rest.
Rest alone will rarely fix chronic pain (hence it being chronic). However, rest can give your neck a break and allow certain factors that may worsen your pain, such as inflammation, time to pass.
Come to Us for Chronic Neck Pain Relief
If chronic neck pain is affecting your life, our experts at AZ Pain Doctors can help. You should not have to handle pain without professional help.
To make an appointment with us, click this link. We also encourage you to explore our site and see what our facilities and staff can offer.