Neck Pain Relief: Top Tips from a Chiropractor

Are you one of the 80% of people that have back pain? Or maybe more specifically, neck pain?

No one wants to go to the doctor, but the fact is that back or neck pain is one of the top 3 reasons people seek the services of their doctor. It can be debilitating and they want to be sure that the cause of their pain is nothing serious.

Once cleared of a significant problem, many people are generally interested in taking care of their pain without the use of drugs. However, this is where traditional medicine fails. They just don’t have the knowledge of alternative medicine and natural remedies to recommend safe and effective treatment options for their patients.

This is where I can help!

I have been a licensed and practicing chiropractor for going on 20 years. Neck pain relief is one of the most common reasons patients visit my office. While the purpose of chiropractic is not to get rid of neck pain, it does happen to be a side effect that people love.

So let’s get right into all of the recommendations for neck pain relief that I like to share with my patients!

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic table

I’m absolutely going to recommend seeking out the services of a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments, first and foremost, are one of the best non-drug approaches to getting relief from neck pain.

As I’ve stated above, chiropractors don’t focus on your pain. Chiropractors work with the entire neuromusculoskeletal system and correct any abnormalities within it. This means their focus is on the bones and joints of the spine along with how the alignment of those bones affects the supportive structures and nerves in the area.

When the vertebrae of the spine are “subluxated,” they are malpositioned and are lacking proper movement. This subluxation can cause misfiring of the nerves which leads to muscle spasms and/or extreme pain.

Chiropractors look to the source…the misalignment and abnormal movement of the spinal joints. They apply a precise, and typically gentle, force into the joints to correct their abnormal position and movement. Doing this will enable the nerves to calm and begin to send the correct signals to the muscles and tissues of the area.

The result?

Pain relief.

The chiropractor addresses the cause (subluxation), not the effect (pain), and the body does the healing.

You can read more about what chiropractic is in this article.

Stretches for Neck Pain Relief

Muscles that are overly tight or laxity in ligaments are some of the main reasons for chronic neck pain.

Our daily activities from driving in traffic to sitting at the computer for hours on end put our neck into a forward and/or flexed position. This shortening and tightening of the muscles lead to a reduced range of motion. And the increased ligament laxity leads to instability in the joints. This combination can easily set you up for chronic neck pain.

Here are a few simple stretches that I recommend my own patients perform on a daily basis.

The “TURTLE” Stretch

Turtle Stretch

As I stated above, constant computer use causes us to be in a flexed and head forward posture for most of the day. As humans, we were actually designed to be in an upright position.

In this constant flexed posture, we tend to roll our shoulders forward which, in turn, causes our head to lean forward. This places increased stress on the muscles and ligaments of the neck which can lead to neck pain.

Here’s how the turtle stretch should be performed:

  1. Begin by standing tall from a seated position.
  2. Roll your shoulders back, and then set them in a relaxed position.
  3. Pull your head straight back like a turtle pulling its head back into its shell. Be sure not to tuck or lift your chin. It should be level with the floor.
  4. Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then relax.
  5. Do this stretch 3 times every 1-2 hours while working at the computer.

Side-to-Side Head Tilts

Side to side head tilts

How to perform the side-to-side head tilts:

  1. Being by standing tall from a seated position.
  2. Tilt the head sideways to either side trying to touch your ear to your shoulder.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat to the other side.
  5. Do this stretch 3 times on each side 2-3 times daily.

Forward and Backward Head Tilts

Forward and backward head tilts

How to perform forward and backward head tilts:

  1. Begin by standing tall from a seated position.
  2. Tuck the chin to the chest.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Look up to the sky.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Do this stretch 3 times forward and 3 times backward 2-3 times daily.

Neck Rotations

Neck rotations

How to perform neck rotations:

  1. Begin by standing tall from a seated position.
  2. Turn the head to one side.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Turn the head to the other side.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds.
  6. Do this stretch 3 times on each side 2-3 times daily.

Neck Traction

Neck Roll

One of the reasons we get neck pain is due to compression of discs and a lessening of the curvature in the neck. Neck traction helps to open up the disc spaces and promote an increase of the natural cervical curve.

There are a variety of neck traction devices that can be prescribed by a chiropractor. The Posture Pump is the cervical traction device that I am the most familiar with and have used with patients. It’s designed to help restore proper curvature to the neck, increase flexibility, and decrease stiffness. It’s easy to use and can be purchased for use at home.

**I do recommend that you have your chiropractor fit you properly to this device.**

While traction devices are great and might be slightly more effective at relieving neck pain, I also like to give my patients options. Options that are easy and inexpensive.

My favorite suggestion is to have the person roll up a hand towel and place it under the curve of their neck. They can begin by laying on this rolled-up towel for just 1-2 minutes 2-3 times daily. Each week, the time can be extended by an additional 1-2 minutes until they’ve reached a consistent 15-20 minutes on the towel.

Trigger Point Therapy for Neck Pain Relief

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy is done by pressing on trigger points, or muscle knots, in a muscle to help break the pain-spasm-pain cycle. It is best when performed by a professional, however, you can recruit a spouse or significant other to do this as well. Just have them use their thumb to push on the muscles in the area of pain and hold for 10-15 seconds.

Another option is to get a device like a foam roller, Jack Knobber, or Fascia Blaster so that you can do trigger point therapy on yourself. I’ve used foam rollers with student-athletes when I was an athletic trainer and I’ve used the Jack Knobber on patients. Both work very well and can be used at home on your own. My personal massage therapist uses a Fascia Blaster on me, and wow, I’m highly impressed. It definitely gets the job done.

Essential Oils for Neck Pain Relief

Essential Oils for Neck Pain Relief

Essential oils are great for reducing neck pain. Peppermint, wintergreen, or lavender essential oils are my most recommended essential oils for neck pain. These oils should first be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin. A drop or two of the chosen oil in a teaspoon of olive or jojoba oil will suffice, then it can gently be rubbed into the skin of the neck.

I get asked quite frequently which brand of essential oils is my favorite. A few great quality brands I use are Plant Therapy, Mountain Rose Herbs, Young Living, and doTerra. I know there are many other brands out there, but I feel confident in recommending essential oils from these four companies.

Ice Packs vs. Heat Packs

Ice packs vs. Heat packs

While many people will choose one over the other or claim that one treatment is right and the other is wrong, I come from a place of years of experience in both the chiropractic field as well as treating athletes as an athletic trainer. I recommend both ice packs and heat packs for neck pain relief.

Let me talk about ice first. When we are in pain, we generally also have inflammation, spasm, and reduced motion. Ice can decrease the firing of nerves and thus reduce pain. It can also decrease inflammation and break a spasm. It may or may not improve motion.

Heat can do many of the same things that ice does. It can break a spasm and reduce pain. Heat also generally improves the range of motion in the area. But heat increases circulation which, if used to soon, can increase inflammation. One of the arguments to this is that heat also brings healing nutrients to the area so it’s good to use even in the early stages of neck pain.

I do concur that these nutrients are important for healing, but in all my years of practice, I find that applying ice in the first 24-48 hours and then switching to heat after that time has the greatest benefits.

Homeopathy for Neck Pain Relief

Homeopathy for Neck Pain Relief

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that amazes me the more and more I learn about it. Along with chiropractic care, it is essential for anyone looking to heal any condition without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Specifically for neck pain, I have a few go-to’s that I recommend:

  • Arnica montana – used for pain, inflammation, and trauma. It does a wonderful job of healing the soft tissues and should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet.
  • Hypericum perforatum – used for extreme nerve pain that’s sharp and shooting in nature. If the nerves are in overdrive, this is a fabulous choice.
  • Magnesia phosphorica – used for nerve pain and cramping. If the muscles of the neck are in spasm causing a great deal of pain, this is a great homeopathic remedy to use.

**It’s best to use these homeopathic medicines as directed on the bottle unless under the care of a healthcare professional.**

Want to learn more about homeopathy? Check out my virtual study groups or click to get my 37 Must-Have Homeopathic Medicines for Families cheat sheet.

Nutritional Supplements and Herbs

Supplements and herbs for neck pain relief

Neck pain can stem from inadequate nutrition. So feed it what it needs. Here are the supplements and herbs that I recommend for neck pain relief:

  • Valerian Root – this is known as nature’s Valium. It is a sedative that calms the nervous system and helps to repair tissues.
  • Passion Flower – it helps reduce inflammation and muscle spasms.
  • Calcium – this mineral helps to establish normal muscle function.
  • Magnesium – this mineral is important in maintaining healthy circulation, calming the nervous system, and reducing pain and muscle spasms.

Additional Information

Neck pain is generally very easy to treat with alternative medicine and natural remedies. I’ve mentioned many options above. But if you feel like your condition is not improving, always be sure to contact your medical provider for further testing that may identify a more significant condition.

If you’d like more information about alternative medicine and natural remedies, click here to become a member of my Holistic Health Network.

For one-on-one help with acute or chronic conditions, set up a health consult with me. We can take a look at many aspects of your lifestyle and determine some additional courses of action to take.

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Hi! I’m Dr. Kristi. I’m a wife, mom, and alternative health care practitioner. I like to live a little differently and go against the grain.

I consult with people of all ages who are looking to ditch the drugs and seek alternative methods of healing from acute and chronic health conditions. I’m also pretty passionate about teaching others how to live healthier, happier lives by incorporating nutrition, natural remedies, minimalist ideas, and much more.

I’m completely obsessed with ice cream, travel, and all things Disney.