man sitting down with neck pain at Charleston chiropractor office

Neck pain is so annoying to deal with. It may be hard to look over your shoulder while driving or back up. You may not even want to look down. When you have neck pain all you want to do is look straight forward and that’s it.  

The neck is commonly injured in traumatic cases like whiplash or a hard fall on the shoulder or arm. These incidences could cause sprains, strains, disc herniations, or facet pain.  

But sometimes people just wake up with neck pain from sleeping at a weird angle or having cold air blowing on the neck all night. That has to be the most annoying. Getting neck pain from sleeping too hard.  

The neck is very sensitive and can have painful symptoms for a lot of reasons because there are so many muscles that are attached and move the neck. From all the small muscles at the base of the skull, to all the larger muscles like the traps.  

There are also facets and facet capsules that are part of your vertebrae that can cause neck pain when you whip your head back or forward really hard like in whiplash.  

Sometimes neck pain can come about from stress. When you are really stressed you tend to tense up your shoulders, which is activating all the muscles in your neck. This continuous activation will start to wear down your body.  

Some injuries can cause pain down the arm. When you have a disc herniation, the disc is putting pressure on the nerves that go down your arm. That pressure causes the weakness or electric type of arm pain you might be feeling.  

Neck Pain Treatments  

An easy to do at home exercise for neck pain is neck retractions. This exercise is great for disc herniations because it moves the disc back into its proper spot and away from the nerves.  

This can also be good for just mobilizing the neck. As weird as it may seem, even though you have neck pain and don’t want to move your neck, adding movement little by little will help decrease pain.  

To perform neck retractions, start in a seated position and sit up nice and tall. Make sure to drop your shoulder to let go of some of that tension in your neck. You need to be fairly relaxed.  

Next, tuck your chin. To tuck to your chin, think of yourself like your back is on a wall. Then bring your chin straight back. If you did this correctly your neck should have stayed straight.  

Now, look up toward the ceiling. Look up as high as you can go before there is a lot of neck pain. Then go back to the starting position. Do this about 10 or so times and see if that relieves some of your symptoms.  

The next way to help with your neck pain is stretching. When you stretch you can relieve some of the muscular tension that is built up. When you stretch you are also giving yourself a little bit more movement and that movement is great for helping you heal.

To perform the first stretch, sit down and look over your left shoulder. Then bring your opposite ear to your armpit. This is stretching the traps which is a big muscle that sometimes gets very tense with stress.   Do this stretch about 10 times and make sure to take deep breaths.  

To perform the next stretch, look over your left shoulder and bring your chin to your armpit. This is stretching the levator scapulae, which is a muscle that will also get very tense with stress.  

Again, do this stretch about 10 times and make sure to take deep breaths.  

The last exercise for neck pain is breathing correctly. When you breathe incorrectly you are putting a lot of stress on your neck muscles. And think of how many times you breathe during the day. That’s a lot of unwanted stress.  

To correctly breathe without the added neck stress you want to belly breathe. By breathing into your belly you are not using all your neck muscles and as an added bonus you are properly stabilizing your core and low back.  

To learn to breathe through your belly, start by lying on your back with your feet elevated on a couch or bench. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Try to only move the hand on your belly when you breathe.  

If this is difficult, blow out hard like your blowing out birthday candles, and push down with your feet. This drops your ribs and brings the pelvis into a neutral position. This should make it easier to breathe.  

Lie there and breathe for about 10 breaths. This should also help you relax. Great added bonus.  

If you are struggling with neck pain, try out these exercises, and see if they help. If not, you may need to see a medical professional.