What’s Your Pain in the Neck?

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Neck pain is almost as common as back pain and also almost as hard to treat. This is why an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Now some people may tell you that there’s really nothing you can do about it, but that’s just not true.

Although some causes of neck pain may not be under your control, there are still many things you can do to minimize your risk. Let’s start by looking at how to better position your neck during sleep and then go over our favorite supplements for naturally relieving pain.

How to Position Your Neck While Sleeping

The Harvard Medical Newsletter says that sleeping on your side or on your back are the best positions for your neck. If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head.

Here are some other tips for supporting your neck while sleeping:

  1. Try using a feather pillow, which easily conforms to the shape of the neck. Feather pillows will collapse over time, however, so they should be replaced every year or so. A possible alternative is a memory foam pillow, which is a bit more expensive but usually lasts longer.
  2. Cervical pillows are specifically designed to support your neck, and most of these are now made with memory foam as well. If neck pain is disrupting your sleep, this can be a worthy investment.
  3. Avoid using too high or too stiff a pillow, as these can flex your neck and result in morning pain and stiffness.
  4. If you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head.
Sleeping on your stomach is tough on your spine, because your back is arched and your neck is turned to the side. Preferred sleeping positions are often set early in life and can be tough to change. Beyond that, we don’t usually wake up in the same position that we fell asleep in.

Still, it’s worth trying to start the night sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, healthy position.

Lack of Sleep Doesn’t Help

Research suggests that lack of sleep can play a role in musculoskeletal pain, including neck and shoulder pain. In one 2008 study,1 researchers compared musculoskeletal pain in over 4,000 healthy men and women with sleeping problems such as difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking early in the mornings, and non-restorative sleep.

They found that people reporting problems in three of the categories were at an increased risk of developing chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year over those who reported no sleep problems. More often than not, the pain that people described was neck and back pain.

There are a lot of different theories about how lack of sleep can cause pain. But that’s not what this blog post is about. If sleep is a problem for you, we have a thorough sleep protocol with several natural suggestions that’s a great place to start.

Our Favorite Natural Pain Relievers

Let’s keep this simple. We compiled our favorite pain relievers from past blogs, articles and protocols and listed them in the table below. Since they’re all-natural and safe, you can try one of them or you can try all of them. But, as always, speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement.



Do you suffer from chronic neck pain? What’s worked for you or not worked? Please let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. Int J Behav Med. 2008;15(4):254-62.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have chronic neck pain from a neck injury. Chiropractic adjustments, yoga poses and adequate sleep are the only things that help.

Anonymous said...

After a bad accident the only thing that helped me was a lot of deep tissue massage and a few Chiropractic adjustments and Yoga, Meditation and stretching.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I have had neck pain for years, I went to a chiropractor which helped some. I have tried natural methods for pain and they really did not work. It wasn't till I went to a specific chiropractor that I really began to feel relief. I had no idea there were different chiropractors. I did not understand what a specific chiropractor was until I research it on line.

Anonymous said...

I regularly take magnesium citrate every night to prevent cramps and calcification. I used to chronically have discomfort and tightness in my left shoulder which was only resolved after I went for a treatment to have my C1 (atlas vertebra) re-positioned; apparently it was out a fair way and causing mis-alighnment that my shoulder was trying to compensate for.

Life Extension said...

We've been suggesting magnesium for muscle cramping for years. It works pretty fast for most people.

D Dye said...

Chiropractic works wonders for me.

Back Pain Relief said...

I have read that targeted exercises and stretches in the neck will help increase blood circulation, strengthen the muscles and reduce recovery time. Would be nice to find a site that has examples of such exercises and stretches!

Life Extension said...

Here are two web sites for you: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/muscle/id/6/muscle/neck and http://www.des.umd.edu/os/erg/neck.html.

Anonymous said...

Chiropractic is the most evidenced based approach to dealing with neck pain. Best results and best patient satisfaction. As a bonus, a plethora of other health benefits are a result of normal spinal cord tension and optimal mechanoreceptive input to the cerebellum from the cervical facets (Especially Co/C1/C2)

Anonymous said...

After multiple injuries to my neck including C5 compression fracture, I went to chiropractor who further injured me. Haven't been to one since. I later learned that chiropractic neck injuries are common. High velocity thrusts are dangerous for that part of the body. The neck should never be forced into alignment. I now do mild stretching & mind/body work.

Seattle Neck pain said...

I have a cervical pillow that has greatly improved my sleep since I bought it. I don't like sleeping on my back because I can't comfortably put my arms anywhere. With this pillow, I can sleep on my side without concerns.

Dr J Malay said...

You are so right when you say, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Proper positioning during sleep and good rest seem so simple yet so many of us suffer because we lack these very things. Dr J Malay

Life Extension said...

Dr J Malay- Great point and thanks for the feedback!

veer singh said...

I use the cervical neck pillow, I have got really benefit, I am very impress from this blog, your this blog is giving the beneficial information. So I would like to say thanks to you.

Life Extension said...

veer singh - You're welcome! Thanks for tuning in. :-)

veer singh said...

I have no any idea that how to say anything about your blog. Because I got a huge benefit by your blog, I always confused about the my neck pain, I do not know the is the cure of my neck pain, and I am suffering from my worst neck pain, then I saw your blog, and I bought a cervical neck pain support pillow, at lowest price by online. This is really good and beneficial to all. So I would like to say thanks to you.

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