We may not always think about it, but our neck does a lot to save us from common pain and injuries on a daily basis. The flexibility of our neck allows us to move our head without damaging our brains, supports the weight of our head, and protects the nerves that carry sensory and motor information from the brain down into the rest of the body.
While you may take the functions your neck provides for granted a lot of the time, there’s no doubt you’re acutely aware of it when in pain. Chronic neck pain can range from a persistent discomfort to debilitating pain that radiates into your spine or down your arm. Left untreated, chronic neck pain could become a serious threat to your overall well-being.
To help you avoid the negative impact of this common ailment, we’re looking at chronic neck pain treatment and causes to get you back to living a pain-free life!
What Is Chronic Neck Pain?
Before we hop into chronic neck pain causes and treatments, it helps to know what it is. As opposed to short-term neck pain, which can be caused by things like a sports injury, slouching, repetitive motion injuries, or bad sleep posture, chronic neck pain is classified as neck pain lasting at least three months.
While many short-term neck injuries such as muscle strains and sprains will heal on their own, some may develop into chronic neck pain if left unattended. This is why it’s important to consult your healthcare professional whenever you experience a neck injury to ensure you heal properly.
Even though this type of injury and pain can be very serious, there are a number of chronic neck pain treatment options you can do to get back to living your life the way you want.
Common Chronic Neck Pain Causes
What causes chronic neck pain? There are a wide variety of potential chronic neck pain causes you should be aware of. As you may have guessed, learning how to treat chronic neck pain relies heavily on identifying the source of the problem so it can be corrected.
Some common chronic neck pain causes include:
- Age-related chronic neck pain
- Chronic neck pain from injuries
- Poor posture and spinal misalignment
- Stress-related chronic neck pain
Age-Related Chronic Neck Pain
Some associate chronic neck pain with other age-related diseases like osteoporosis or spinal stenosis. Daily wear and tear on our necks can begin to take a larger toll on us as we get older, after all. In time, stress and movement can result in spinal disc degeneration, potentially leading to herniated discs or pinched nerve pain.
Other conditions like arthritis pain and fibromyalgia symptoms may also contribute to chronic neck pain. While some conditions are unable to be cured altogether, learning what helps arthritis pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, and other age-related diseases is paramount to improving quality of life.
Chronic Neck Pain From Injuries
Damage to your neck caused by an injury could persist until it becomes chronic neck pain, as well. For example, sudden forced movements back and forth of the neck and head (known as whiplash) can cause pain and soreness. Left untreated, this could become a long-term chronic neck pain issue.
Recovering from sports injuries and other activity-based injuries is vital to avoid chronic neck pain, too. While these may not seem serious at the time, sometimes the simpler chronic neck pain causes are what slip through the cracks the most easily and become a source of pain down the line.
Poor Posture and Spinal Misalignment
Another of the most common chronic neck pain causes is practicing poor posture. Anything that puts excess pressure on the spine and neck muscles while out of alignment has the potential to cause short-term and long-term damage. This is especially common in people working in an office setting who are most likely sitting for long periods of time.
The bad sitting habits we practice subconsciously become much more noticeable when we’re experiencing pain!
Chronic Neck Pain and Stress
Most of the time when we think of chronic neck pain causes we’re most likely to consider physical catalysts like a sports injury or poor posture. Our mental health, however, has been recognized to have a direct correlation to chronic neck pain, as well. Whether it’s work-related stress, injury-related stress, or something else, stress can cause the muscles in our neck to seize up. Needless to say, chronic stress is therefore one of the most common causes of chronic neck pain.
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment
While it’s important to consult your healthcare professional before beginning any form of treatment, the good news is that many chronic neck pain ailments can be successfully treated at home. Whether it’s aimed at correcting the source of the issue fully or simply managing symptoms to improve quality of life, chronic neck pain treatment is vital to getting back to feeling your best.
To help with chronic neck pain treatment, you may opt to try one of these methods:
- Resting more
- Getting a massage
- Low-impact exercises like swimming
- Meditating to de-stress and relax
- Cold and heat therapy
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment #1: Get More Rest
One of the easiest forms of chronic neck pain treatment you can do is to simply get more rest! While being fully sedentary or immobile isn’t recommended, making sure to incorporate short periods of rest into your day when experiencing chronic neck pain can go a long way to helping how the body heals itself.
This routine of activity followed by resting may help prevent your neck muscles from becoming stiff and sore by keeping them loose and limber. The periods of rest then allow blood flow to more efficiently deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, tendons, and tissue in your neck to help them heal.
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment #2: Get a Massage
Similar to managing back pain, getting a massage for neck pain is another chronic neck pain treatment method worth trying. Getting a massage for neck pain can help loosen the muscles in neck and shoulder areas, relaxing muscle tension and letting them heal. Furthermore, neck and shoulder massages (as well as back massages) can be very effective techniques for how to de-stress and unwind. That tension relief allows clinched muscles to disengage.
To make the most of the benefits of a neck massage, however, it’s important to be consistent. Getting regular massages will yield a more effective result compared to getting them infrequently. To enjoy the benefits of massage therapy at home, many people have turned to luxury massage chairs instead of trying to schedule in regular appointments with a massage therapist. The evolution of today’s full body massage chairs have effectively eliminated any difference between using a massage chair vs human massage.
This advancement in technology from old vs new massage chairs brings with it a wide offering of different types of massage programs and other massage chair features. Features such as zero gravity massage chairs may enhance bodily healing and increase blood flow, leading to a myriad of potential health benefits. Other massage chair features like the benefits of heat therapy or massage chairs with chromotherapy options have their own ways of serving as a chronic neck pain treatment while you relax and recharge.
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment #3: Low-Impact Exercises
Another method for chronic neck pain treatment you might consider is exercise. Keeping active is vital to loosening neck muscles which may otherwise become stiff and sore. The key is to alleviate chronic neck pain causes without overworking the muscles and making matters worse.
Low-impact exercises like swimming may be of particular use here. Swimming is a low impact exercise and the water adds buoyancy to your body, alleviating excess pressure on the spine. Studies have also shown that doing strength and endurance exercises with light weights or light resistance bands may significantly improve chronic neck pain. The results show noticeable reductions in chronic neck pain, increases in strength, and better quality of life.
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment #4: Meditating for Stress Management
As we mentioned before, chronic neck pain isn’t just caused by physical health conditions. Our mental health plays a role in it, as well. Making our list of chronic neck pain treatment options you can try at home, therefore, has to address that, as well. For this, we suggest meditation.
Meditation has long been recognized for its ability to center the mind and relax the body. Mindfulness meditation practices may help lower cortisol levels naturally, enhancing our mood while providing chronic neck pain relief. Another type of meditative practice you may want to include are breathing exercises for stress management.
Pro Tip: Consider combining meditation and breathing exercises with using a massage chair to experience the best mental health benefits of massage for neck pain.
Chronic Neck Pain Treatment #5: Cold and Heat Therapy
Last, though not least, on our list of simple chronic neck pain treatment ideas is cold and heat therapy. You can use these in tandem with one another to boost their individual effects. For example, applying a cold compress or ice pack to your neck may help with inflammation or swelling you’re experiencing. Be sure to wrap your compress, however, as you should never apply ice directly to the skin.
The benefits of heat therapy are then able to play their role in chronic neck pain treatment, keeping muscles loose and relaxed. Heat therapy may also help increase blood circulation, helping the muscles, tendons, and tissue in your neck heal more efficiently. To boost your results, consider the benefits of owning a massage chair with heat therapy features. Being able to combine massage, heat therapy, deep relaxation, and a meditation space gives you almost all the benefits of our chronic neck pain treatment ideas in one!
Left unchecked, short-term neck injuries can easily turn into chronic neck pain. Whether you’re living with age-related diseases or have a long-term injury affecting your neck muscles, finding ways to attain chronic neck pain relief could drastically improve your quality of life. Identify the source of the issue, then try different methods such as low-impact exercises, meditation, and choosing a massage chair to get back to living your life to the fullest!
Want to learn more about the benefits of owning a massage chair and how it could positively impact your lifestyle? Check out these resources: