Neck pain is no joke. Whether it’s a crick in your neck from sleeping the wrong way or it’s related to shoulder and back pain or another medical issue, a sore neck can be, well, a big pain in the neck.
You may not know what to do to relieve your pain, especially if your doctor didn’t offer you much in the way of suggestions or treatments aside from medications. And while medications are helpful, you may be seeking other types of treatments.
Check out this list of 10 helpful ways to alleviate neck pain for seniors.
10 Pain Relief Options for Seniors With Neck Pain
Sometimes sitting in the same position for too long can cause a stiff and sore neck. This could be from sitting in front of your computer at your desk or just not moving positions for too long on the couch. Alleviate soreness with some basic stretches.
You don’t have to leave your chair to loosen up your neck muscles. Keeping your muscles relaxed could help keep away neck pain.
Simply do some easy stretches like slowly twisting your neck from side to side and from front to back. A set of 10 shoulder rolls and neck rolls could also be helpful.
Do a few repetitions of these stretches every hour. If you are in the car driving for a long period, this is another example of how you can end up with a sore neck.
You should always stop and stretch as much as possible, including neck and shoulder stretches to keep your neck from becoming tense.
2. Sleep Correctly and Support Your Neck
Did you know that chronic neck pain could be caused by how you sleep? If you are a stomach sleeper, you could be doing yourself a disservice since you’ll find yourself turning your neck left and right throughout the night.
If you suffer from neck pain, make sure you sleep on your side or lie on your back. Also, ensure the pillow you’re using isn’t too soft.
A medium to firm pillow provides the amount of support your neck and head need at night. A pillow that’s too soft could mean you wake up with a crick in your neck.
When’s the last time you replaced your mattress? Experts say you should get a new one every eight years. Over time, your mattress sinks in, meaning your back and neck aren’t getting the proper amount of support.
If you replace your mattress, opt for a firm one or use an extra layer of padding to achieve a more supportive feel. Memory foam is great for keeping your neck and back supported while you sleep.
PS – Don’t fall asleep sitting up, on the couch, or on a plane without using a neck pillow! You’ll wake up feeling sore if you do.
3. Take Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Sometimes you don’t have a choice, and you have to rely on medication to get you through the day, especially if your neck is really bothering you.
Start with over-the-counter medications first before opting for anything stronger, but always let your doctor know what you’re taking just to make sure it doesn’t interact with any other medications you may be currently taking.
Some good medications to try for neck pain include ibuprofen, which is also known as Motrin. You can also try acetaminophen, or Tylenol.
Take the smallest dose you can get by with, and make sure not to overdo it. Combining medication with other forms of neck relief may provide the result you need to get on with your day and avoid pain.
4. Apply Hot or Cold Therapy
You may feel so bad you can’t even think about working, cooking, or running errands. Time to head to the couch with a good book, some Netflix, and a heating pad or cold pack.
Using heat or cold (or both) can be very helpful, especially if you combine it with ibuprofen or a pain reliever. Use a heating pad and place it where it hurts the most, letting the heat soothe your aching neck, shoulders, and back.
Many athletes find that when they have injuries, combining heat and cold therapy is what does the trick. If you have a cold pack, use that, but if not, a bag of frozen veggies works in a pinch!
Personally, I find that icing my back works incredibly, especially after exercise.
Alternate 30 minutes of each type of therapy with 30-minute breaks. If you don’t have a heating pad, heat can come in the form of a hot, soothing bath (add lavender or another essential oil, or Epsom salts to really relax) or a wash cloth you can wet with hot water.
5. Get a Massage
You may think of a massage as an indulgence. However, what it really should be thought of as is a form of physical therapy. If you are a person who has tight, tense muscles, getting a regular massage can really help you.
When you go for your massage, let the therapist know you’re having problems with your neck so he or she knows exactly what type of massage you need. Since you’re in pain, the therapist will not use pressure that will hurt you further.
Applying a gentle amount of pressure along with kneading knots out in your shoulders and back can also relax your neck.
If you have a lot of stress or you have been feeling chronic neck pain, it’s time to take matters into your own hands (or someone else’s!) and treat yourself to some physical therapy. You’ll leave feeling relaxed and loose, and you may just find your neck pain going away in the next day or two.
6. Head to a Chiropractor
You may think of a chiropractor as a doctor of the back. However, that’s not always true. A chiropractor frequently helps patients with neck problems. You may need a chiropractor to adjust your neck.
This basically means the chiropractor can use his or her hands to do different techniques to help alleviate your pain by moving muscles and joints around.
It sounds kind of painful, and it could be at first, but the long-term relief could be very beneficial.
You may find that back pain can also lead to neck and shoulder pain since all of these joints and muscles are connected.
A chiropractor is trained to tackle all of these areas, and many people who suffer from sore muscles find relief with regular visits to their chiropractor. If all else fails, it’s worth a try!
6. Give Acupuncture a Chance
Acupuncture may look a little weird, but many people find it very effective at treating neck pain and other physical issues, and, best of all, it’s completely natural.
What does acupuncture do, exactly? The therapist inserts thin, fine needles (they don’t hurt – in fact, you can barely feel them!) into specific points on the body called pressure points. By hitting these pressure points, it should provide relief to those areas.
Acupuncture is used for a wide variety of aches, pains, and even illnesses. When you’re looking for an acupuncturist, make sure your therapist is licensed, has a clean work space, and uses completely clean and new needles.
Acupuncture shouldn’t be painful, and it may have other benefits, such as reducing stress, which can contribute to neck pain, so if you visit your acupuncturist regularly, it may change your life and your body for the long-term.
Neck pain can be a physical manifestation of your emotional or mental state. If you carry your stress in your body, then you’ll understand exactly what that means. You can reduce or even remove pain if you can let yourself go and relax regularly.
Consider it self-care instead of optional. Stop saying you don’t have time – make time for yourself. Whether this means practicing a hobby you love, picking up a book, or spending a whole weekend ignoring chores and enjoying yourself while you chat or visit with friends, head out for dinner, or relax on the couch, the point is to destress
Everyone has things they like to do to relieve anxiety, and it’s best to squeeze in some self-care as much as possible. Petting a cat or dog can relieve anxiety.
Taking a hot bath, going for a long walk on a nice day, or even watching a comedy that makes you laugh can all lower your blood pressure.
If you’re a worrier, give yourself a day off and relax the tension in your upper body. Chances are, your neck pain will disappear!
8. Check Your Vision
Have you been keeping up-to-date with your yearly eye doctor visits? If you wear glasses, make sure you ensure the prescription is current and you can see properly.
It’s a reflex for us to lean forward or backward in order to get a better look at something, whether it’s a book, newspaper, or recipe. You may even be straining to see your computer or smartphone.
If you wear readers, you may need a stronger pair. If you wear regular glasses, maybe it’s time to switch to bifocals. If you haven’t seen your eye doctor (pun intended) in a while, it’s a safe bet that it’s time for you to get a new prescription and treat yourself to some new specs.
Straining your neck to get a better look at something can definitely cause neck pain and muscle strain, especially if you are doing it multiple times a day. You may not even notice that you do it!
When your neck hurts, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, you don’t have to hit the gym or lift weights in order to feel good. In fact, avoid high-impact exercise when you’re sore, but don’t avoid moving altogether.
Not moving can actually make your pain stick around for longer. Keeping your body moving just a little bit can help your neck and back pain.
This could mean something as simple as taking a walk around the block after dinner, or putting your dog on his leash and heading out to the park for a slow, leisurely walk.
Get out and ride your bike, do some yoga or Pilates, or simply stand up and do some easy stretching exercises.
Though you can go easy on yourself when you’re in pain, doctors recommend to keep moving even if it’s not very much.
10. Immobilize Your Neck
If your neck pain doesn’t go away or you feel you may have a sprain, your doctor may recommend that you wear a neck brace in order to avoid further injury and help provide support for your neck. This could help somewhat with the pain that you are dealing with and allow your neck to heal.
A neck brace may look awkward, but once you get it on, it may actually feel good for your neck to have some support. After all, there are many things you could do to hurt your neck – you could have a pinched nerve, sprain, crick, pulled muscle or tendon, etc.
Though home remedies can help with minor pain, in a more serious case of neck pain or injury, it’s always best to contact your doctor and see if immobilization is the right thing for you to do, at least on a temporary basis until it’s okay for you to gain some movement again.