The First Thing to do with Neck Pain?
Many patients are coming into my Vineland clinic with neck pain. I normally tell them that the first thing to do with neck pain is to ice it before it becomes more of a problem. Unfortunately, many people do not do this and they struggle on with their neck pain until it gets to the stage they have to do something about it. So why ice and what does it do?
The type of neck pain patient I see is due to segmental dysfunction and compressed joints in the neck area. This is normally further exasperated by tight muscles and irritated nerves that can cause tingling sensations and the whole area is inflammed.
One of the best ways to help, and this really helps in the early onset of neck pain, is to ice the area. Ice it for 20 minutes at a time. What ice does is reduces the inflammation which in turn reduces the pain. While it can be uncomfortable to ice the area, it will help a great deal and if you can do it consistently, then you probably won’t have to get it seen to. It is worth noting that icing is much better than heating the area. You’re looking to get inflammation down remember, so cold will contract the area while heat expands it. Heat may feel nice at the time, but in the long run it won’t help as much.
The trick is to be patient. It might take up to a week of regular icing for a big difference to be made.
When should you ice?
One of my chief complaints is that people say they feel worse in the morning (and this goes for back pain sufferers too.) This is because at night, the discs in your spine naturally rehydrate so in the morning the discs are actually larger than the night before due to the extra liquid. This in turn means that extra pressure is applied to the surrounding area, pushing on nerves, increasing inflammation and so on.
Therefore, the best time to ice is at night time to help get the inflammation down, so when you wake up and the discs have rehydrated, they won’t create as much pressure on the area and thus the pain isn’t as great.
Neck pain can be easily managed this way without the need of professional help, but it may take some time. Obviously if you are not getting better, then you should come in and we can examine you to see what’s going on and help from there. But absolutely, the first thing you should do with neck pain is to ice it.
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