A Pain in the neck!

A Pain in the neck!

By Sharon Truelove, MS, LMT, NCTM

Does neck pain keep you awake at night?

Do you feel like a hot poker is lodged between your shoulders?

There can be many reasons for experiencing “a pain in the neck”.

  • Injury. Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries. It involves sudden hyperextension and  flexion such as when a car impacts from the rear.


  • Stress and emotional tension. Short-term acute stress can actually help a person to react more quickly, think more clearly, and be more attentive and productive. However, ongoing chronic stress can overwhelm the body. If we hold this stress constantly it doesn’t allow good circulation to the muscles and thus they are deprived of nutrients and oxygen…a classic set up for muscle pain.

Sleeping wrong. Holding a muscular position while sleeping throughout the night can cause muscle spasms in the neck (better known as a crick).

Setting at you computer too long. Who hasn’t experienced this? Holding a head-forward posture too long, sets the muscles up for poor circulation.

Bad posture.  The further we hold our head forward, the more weight is imposed on our bodies in an unhealthy way.





Tips to Try.

  1. Improve your posture. See our previous blog on workspace make-over. http://massagetherapy.careerpathblog.com/workspace-onceover/
  2. Stretch throughout the day. A good guideline is 3X times for 2 minutes or when you feel discomfort.
  3. Practice gentle cervical traction. You can use a cervical pillow, “still point” device,  “neackease”, or sleeping on a rolled-up towel placed under the neck can help add support to the neck. 


4.    Apply cold compresses to tense muscles.Keep cold packs at work, at home, and in a cooler when you travel. A homemade pack is easy to make.  Stuff a sock with rice. Pack the rice loosely so the heat pack bends to fit different parts of your body. Leave the top 2 inches empty.  Shake the sock gently so that no rice clings to the top. Wrap the string around the top of the sock and tie it in a tight double-knot. Cut away all but 1 inch of hanging string. Microwave the hot pack in 30-second intervals. Test the temperature by pressing the pack to the underside of your wrist. Remove it from the microwave when it is comfortably warm.

5. Receive massage therapy. Swedish massage relieves stress. If your stiff neck is related to previous injuries or poor posture, you might opt for Deep Tissue or more aggressive styles of massage.

6. Get regular aerobic exercise, do Yoga or Tai Chi. Increasing blood and oxygen flow to the muscles helps refresh tense muscles and loosen restrictions. Your whole body will feel better!

31 thoughts on “A Pain in the neck!”

  1. I think I’m going to take a couple of minutes on my breaks at work to stretch…I think it will make a big difference! As always, thanks for the tips!

  2. I deal with neck pain quite often. Every once in a while I notice that it’s not there. But I have slept with a towel under my neck for relief many times and it never fails. For that day, anyway. I have postural problems and bad sleep habits that I am working on. This is good to know to tell our clients and to practice ourselves to maintain our own bodies. Thanks, Sharon 🙂

  3. We must take care of our neck for the over all health of our body. If there is bad posture the neck and the back will start be a hump. Training your body to have good body mechanics and to alien your bones to be stait will save you from a lot of pain in the future.
    The ways that you can correct and provent this pain can also be relaexing to the person and less stress on the body which inturn will help have less temtion in the body. so its all a circle you have to start taking small steps to take care of your neck and body threw yoga or Tai Chi it will bring life to the muscles.

  4. You can also make a still point device by using the “bouncy” balls like the ones from a gumball type machine. Place them in a sock and tie off the top. Using several balls allows you to place them at the stress points in the neck. I use them and it works great. Will have to try the rice in the sock for a warm pack treatment.

  5. I have great success laying on a “dogbone” pillow if I am having a lot of pain. This is great information and I will hang onto it.

  6. I love the rice pack idea. I think it is a great idea for homemade Christmas gifts for my friends and family too. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t complain about neck pain sometimes. So everyone can use it. Thank you Sharon

  7. I am a sufferer of neck pain. A cervical fusion has helped, and hypnosis for pain control has helped even more. However, these exercises will go right into my own personal tool kit, and hopefully I can work this in for clients as well!

  8. This is really good information for me because my neck and shoulders are usually an issue for me. I haven’t really been working out for the last couple of years so the stretching part will be very beneficial to me. Also this is a reminder to keep good posture while working and even in my leisure time I should stay mindful of this. Thanks

  9. I have been using the rice packs since I was young my mother used to put oils in them for us when we were having sinus problems. I will for sure be keeping this information in my memory bank for future use. Thank You.

  10. Thanks for all the good tips. I will try to employ at least some of them. Stretching is great and I personally don’t know how to make it through the day without stretching. I have never tried the rice thing, but i do use corn bags; same concept and it works great.

  11. I really liked this, and it’s very easy to do and easy to add into anyone’s daily routine. This also makes for great client homework!

  12. Great info Sharon as is there anyone out there without neck pain? Will try the rice sock and add some essential oil too.Using a raised neck pillow in bed and changing sleeping position has worked great too.

  13. What a pain in the neck!!! Thank you Sharon. I was gonna ask you how to make a home-made hot pack, but as always you have already answered the question for me. Thank you for the tip and i will try to sleep with better posture but i cant make any promises. Im a tummy baby

  14. You know growing up, My mother made quight a few of those for all of the family because alot of us had issues but we used them on more than just the neck, but its good that the post is on here or some of us would never know How it could be an easy fix! Thank you