There is nothing that can put a damper on your day and inhibit you from going about your business as much as the unwelcome appearance of pain in your lower neck. In an instant, this discomfort affects your concentration, impedes your flow of movement, and overwhelms your senses.
Lower neck pain is a common complaint, with its causes varying from temporary strains to chronic conditions that require professional treatment. Whether you have been dealing with pain in your lower neck for some time or feel a sudden, nasty twinge of irritation, there are 8 simple ways you can ease your distress today.
What Is Lower Neck Pain?
Lower neck pain is the discomfort you feel in the area encompassing your lower neck region, which may take the form of burning, stabbing, tingling, or shooting sensations. This pain is often caused by muscular strain or ligament impairment, but it can stem from chronic ailments too. Such injuries can be due to grave scenarios from a car accident or other trauma, or result from bad habits like incorrect posture or straining sleep positions.
Lower neck pain may take on different shapes and forms. It can be centered in the general lower neck region of the body or reflect elsewhere into areas like the shoulders and back. Symptoms which often accompany lower neck pain include inflamed and swollen tissue and throbbing sensations. These symptoms may last for only a few days with temporary injury or be an ongoing issue for months when a more serious injury is present.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
One of the most typical causes of lower neck pain is a temporary strain brought about by daily activities. Perhaps you lifted something that was too heavy or slept in an awkward position.
Alternatively, you might have slumped over your computer or mobile device without thinking about it and felt a slight twinge of irritation in your neck that grew into an ongoing ache. These temporary strains typically resolve themselves in a short time if attended to with a change in habits, better posture, and some stretches.
When your lower neck pain is ongoing without relief and reflects to other areas of your body like the shoulders, arms, or hands, a chronic issue may be at play. This distress is not usually the result of a temporary muscle or ligament strain.
If you are also experiencing tingling, numbness, weakened muscles, or spasms, you could be dealing with nerve issues in the spine. Related conditions that cause these types of symptoms and lower neck pain include a herniated disc, collapsed disc, bulging disc, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, spinal osteoarthritis, and ligament hypertrophy. If your lower neck pain reflects to your extremities or other areas in your body and is accompanied by the additional symptoms mentioned, seek the advice of medical professional at once to determine the best course of action.
8 Ways to Alleviate Lower Neck Pain
Drink More Water
Whether you require the aid of a medical professional due to chronic lower neck pain or are dealing with a temporary strain, drinking more water is an effective way to alleviate your distress. Your spinal discs must have sufficient water to stay properly aligned. If your water intake is below the optimal level, your spine will experience undue pressure. Additionally, your spinal discs are composed of 80% water at birth, with this quantity lessening with the aging process.
Thus, the older you are, the less water your spinal discs contain to promote regular function. Staying hydrated can help you hinder spinal degeneration, which often causes lower neck pain. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a great reminder to stay hydrated. You may also try incorporating glasses of water into part of your routine so it becomes an innate habit.
Use Your Mobile Device with Care
The way you use your mobile device could irritate your body and causing substantial lower neck pain. Whether you are constantly hunched over your mobile device or stick it between your neck and ear to talk, both common actions will cause considerable discomfort over time.
In the age of constant texting, it is typical to look up and down at your phone, tilting and straining your neck without even thinking about it. Consider investing in a Bluetooth or headset if you spend considerable periods of time on the phone. When surfing the internet or texting on your mobile device, try to keep your phone aligned with your eye level so you do not have to crane your neck to use it. Whenever you use your mobile device, make sure you take periods away from it to allow your body to rest from the strain of holding a phone constantly.
Swimming is an effective way to ease your lower neck pain. The exercise is a great option to lessen inflammation, soothe your discomfort, and loosen up overt stiffness. When you go swimming, go to the part of the pool where the water is level with your neck and move about to increase your neck mobility.
Doing squats in the water so it hits chin level, stepping from back to front and right to left is another useful exercise. Try swimming in water that is warm rather than cold. Cooler temperatures can have a constricting and tightening effect on the neck. If swimming laps, be careful to use a stroke that does not cause further strain. Seek the advice of a medical professional, if necessary, to choose the correct water exercises right for you.
Invest in the Correct Support
If you think the chair you often sit in could cause your lower neck pain, consider investing in the correct support. This could be through a headrest that will align your spine and keep your neck in place, or require you to purchase a better office chair that contains solid cushioning and neck support.
Sometimes, the way you sleep could be a direct cause of your neck pain. Sleeping with insufficient neck support or sleeping in a position that causes strain to your neck can lead to considerable discomfort. Water pillows are an excellent option to choose the level of firmness that works for you without overtly irritating your muscles.
If your lower neck pain is accompanied by ongoing headaches, tingling sensations, or numbness in the region and reflecting to your extremities, you may need to ice the area. Sometimes, putting ice on the parts of your body that the pain is reflecting to can cause the original source of the pain to ease up. For instance, placing ice on your ear bone, between your index finger and thumb, or on your forehead could make a difference and alleviate your symptoms.
As lower neck pain is often caused by muscular strain, magnesium is an essential supplement to ease muscle spasms and release tension. You can take magnesium in supplement form, but it is a nutrient source found in many foods as well.
Many fruits, beans, vegetables, soy products, and whole grains are rich with magnesium. Some individuals suffering from lower neck pain enjoy taking an Epsom salt bath to soothe the area with warm water and take in the magnesium topically. Magnesium oil is also an effective anti-inflammatory that can be rubbed directly on the affected area for palpable relief.
Bad posture is one of the easiest ways to strain your neck, resulting in acute lower neck pain. A simple way to break this habit is to get up often and avoid remaining in a particular position for too great a length of time. As you move and stay active, you will find it easier to keep your neck from staying in the same detrimental posture.
Seek Professional Treatment
When you have ongoing lower neck pain that does not abate, one of the best things you can do is seek professional treatment. Physical therapy is an excellent form of treatment. It is not confined to treating concrete injuries only but can serve as an effective tool to get at the root cause of your discomfort.
Physical therapy not only improves your symptoms through exercises and working with your muscles, but can give you the knowledge to avoid further strain in the future. Furthermore, physical therapy strengthens your neck muscles and helps you avoid weakness that makes you susceptible to injury.
If you are interested in alternative options, acupuncture can be an effective way to find relief from lower neck pain. Deep tissue massages and needle treatments, when done correctly, may get to the source of your pain and distress.
If you are tired of suffering from lower neck pain, there are key changes you can make today to ease your irritation and help you achieve relief. In the event that your condition is ongoing and does not let up with some lifestyle and postural alterations, seek the advice of a medical professional to discern whether a treatment option like physical therapy might be in order.