How to Take Care of Your Neck and Shoulder
Living with chronic neck and shoulder pain can be debilitating, which means it can certainly prevent you from carrying out your life the way you’d like to. Your pain may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, numbness, weakness and bruising.
These issues cause significant problems with flexibility and freedom of movement. This guide will give you some valuable tips on how to relieve lower neck and shoulder pain.
Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
There are different causes of this condition — and for this reason that it’s difficult to know what doctor to see for neck and shoulder pain. It may be caused by degenerative arthritis (in which case we advise seeing a rheumatologist).
If you have a condition that affects the bones and muscles, we suggest seeing a physiotherapist first! We will help to understand what is wrong and if there is a need to see a specialist or not. Most neck and shoulder pain does occur because of damage to the soft tissue. Other causes also include bursitis, a heart attack, a rotator cuff injury, nerve compression, worn joints or muscle strain.
Whichever doctor you see, you should definitely begin to see a physiotherapist right away. That way, they can begin to carry out exercises and stretches that will improve your overall condition.
What to Avoid When You Have Neck and Shoulder Pain
There are certain activities you should definitely avoid if you have pain in your neck and shoulders, as they can exacerbate the condition. This includes:
- Lifting or reaching
- Sleeping on your stomach
- Sitting for too long a period of time
- Lying down to watch TV (we recommend sitting in a chair instead)
- Carrying heavy bags or boxes
Treating Your Pain at Home
If you’re wondering how to relax stiff neck and shoulder muscles at home, here are some methods you can try:
- Heat: Using heat is an excellent way to reduce pain. You can try a hot cloth or even take a warm bath. If you have an injury that is causing your pain, do not apply heat for at least a week afterwards.
- Cold: Apply an ice pack to the injured area for 15 minute intervals every hour. Never apply ice directly to your skin.
- Elevation: Elevate the area of injury so it’s above your heart. This has a big impact on lessening inflammation, which should help your pain decrease.
- Rest: Spend a couple of days just resting and doing very little else. That way, you can begin to do gentle exercises and stretches to help the muscles to recuperate.
- Medication: Your doctor will probably prescribe you some pain-killing medication, which can be very helpful in lessening your symptoms.
Neck and Shoulder Exercises
There are exercises you can do to help strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles and improve your condition. Here are a few examples:
- Either stand or sit and tuck your chin inside your chest. Turn your head towards your right side while trying to lift your chin over your right shoulder. Hold for 3 seconds, move your head back to the centre and then turn towards the other side and repeat.
- Bend your head to your right side, so that your right ear is near or touching your right shoulder. Stop, return to centre position and then repeat for the other side.
- Either stand or sit up. Place one of your hands on top of the other on your forehead. Then push your head forward against the weight of your hand and don’t move your head. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat 3 times.
For more tips please visit our ‘pain and injuries’ section at admottawaphysio.com
It can be difficult to live with neck and shoulder pain, but hopefully this guide has provided you with some information that can help improve your condition.
Don’t forget to make an appointment with ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy for physiotherapy treatment, so we can help you feel better and live better. You can contact us anytime and we’ll help you begin your journey to wellness.