134 Executive Drive, Lafayette, IN 47905, 765-448-6489

By Dr. Doug Williams
May 24, 2016
Tags: chiropractic medicine   pain   neck  

Three Simple Solutions for Neck Pain

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be covering some common neck conditions, and ways to address neck pain and other related issues (Text Neck, Standing Desks, etc.). Today's blog post will go over a few basics about how your neck works and three solutions you can do on your own when it isn't working right!

1. Maintain the Neck Curve             

When viewed from the side, the neck should have a forward c-shaped curve. Curves act like shock absorbers - if you lose the normal curve, all of the stress of the weight of your head (up to 12 pounds) is driven into your neck and shoulders (as pictured on the left).

Maintaining a proper neck curve is the first order of business when seeking a solution for neck pain. It all starts with paying attention to times and events on a day-to-day basis where you might lose the curve. This may include:

  • Working on a computer: Make sure the screen is elevated to the point where, if you took a string from your chin straight out, it would hit the middle of the screen. Most screens are situated too low. If you sit on a couch/easy chair and use a laptop, place your laptop on a pillow so it is elevated. If you find yourself working off a table or desk with your laptop, consider getting a plug-in keyboard and raising your whole laptop off the table or desk.
  • Sleeping: When you lay on your back in bed, use a thin pillow; a thick pillow will push your head forward and take out the curve. If you lay on your side, use a slightly thicker pillow so your head does not drop down toward the bed. Your head-to-shoulder angle should be between 70 and 90 degrees.  
  • Reading/Watching TV: If you are reading on a couch or easy chair, use a pillow on your lap to elevate the book or device. If you are reading at a desk or table, try to lean the book against another book, so it sits upright - better yet, use a document or recipe book holder. For watching TV, three things: 1) Don't do it in bed, 2) Don't recline your chair, and 3) Don't sit an angle of more than 30 degrees off the center of the T.V.
  • Texting/Using a mobile device: Seriously, who doesn't know how bad texting is for the neck? I fear for the next generation - they won't know what clouds and stars look like because they'll never look up! When you text, do your best to hold the device up, even a little. If you are sitting at home, prop your elbows on a pillow in your lap, or sit at the table and put your elbows up. If you are texting while driving, YOU SHOULDN'T BE!
2. Take Frequent Stretch Breaks
Often, the source of pain in and around a neck are the muscles that support it. When any part of the spine is held in a position for too long, the muscles may experience a reduced blood supply and become hypoxic, leading to pain. Simply getting up and moving can bring oxygen to the area and remove metabolic build-up. When doing sustained work, most of us check the clock fairly frequently - try to get up and stretch out, and move every half hour. Check out our previous blog post "The Best Two Stretches I Know" for a print out of some easy-to-do stretches for the neck.

3. Get More Magnesium In Your Diet
Magnesium is a rate-limiting nutrient. A rate-limiting nutrient means when there is not enough of it is present, things will not get done. With regard to muscles, this can mean that they have trouble contracting and relaxing. Your neck muscles spend all day trying to keep the bowling ball that is your head balanced on top of your shoulders - if your muscles are low on magnesium, they can start to cramp up, causing neck pain. Incorporating more magnesium-rich foods in your diet and maybe even a supplement (we recommend 400 mg of additional magnesium a day) can often reduce and even eliminate neck pain. You can check out a list of magnesium rich foods here. If you are going to take magnesium as a supplement, remember: magnesium is a muscle relaxer, which means it can also work on the bowels. Don't be too far away from a bathroom until you see how your own body responds!
Additional Help
Because neck pain and headaches often go together, it is worth reading our previous blog post "5 Simple Solutions for Your Headaches" for more good ideas on how to reduce pain in the head and neck region.

Neck pain is a big deal. If these solutions are working for you, don't stop practicing them just because you are feeling better, or you are likely to see the pain creep back in.

If you have tried these things and you are still having trouble, contact our office. It may be time for a more in-depth look to get to the bottom of your pain and get you on your way back to living life!

To Your Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana