Dawna Ara, L.Ac.

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5 Ways to Manage Neck Pain Naturally

Most if not all of us have experienced neck pain at some point in our lives. For some it is short lived acute pain lasting only a day or two, for others the pain becomes chronic and unbearable lasting months, even years if left untreated.

What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is defined as pain or discomfort in the region above your shoulders and below your head. It could result from many reasons including physical abnormalities, poor posture, emotional stress, vascular diseases, vertebral compression or subluxations, thyroid disease, esophageal disease, and nerve pain.

Medical doctors will diagnose neck pain by asking the patient questions about the pain and possibly palpating the region.

Pain killers like ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, and Vicodin are often prescribed to ease the pain. Although they may provide temporary relief, over the counter pain killers can have serious side effects such as ulcers and stomach bleeding. Stronger prescription painkillers like Vicodin can become highly addictive and hard to come off of.

Chinese Medicine & Treatment of Neck Pain

In Chinese Medicine no single ailment is treated without simultaneously treating the whole person. In other words, your entire being, lifestyle, diet, spirituality, emotional, and physical health are all taken into consideration.

So if you come into my office with neck pain, I will not only treat the manifestation (neck pain), but I will treat the root which could be causing other aliments as well. Many patients have said that not only did the pain disappear, but they can sleep soundly through the night now too! Oriental Medical doctors do this by utilizing a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbs, cupping, gua sha, qi gong, and massage in order to bring the person into balance.

How Acupuncture Works for Neck Pain

Acupuncture is a great way to relive neck pain. Acupuncturist treat neck pain by diagnosing the root cause of the pain and needling acupoints that not only treat neck pain but treat the underlying condition causing the pain.

For instance, many acupoints on the wrist and ankle treat neck pain but if the pain is coming from stress, poor diet, a cold or flu, physical or emotional blockages then those conditions need to be addressed as well in order to truly resolve the issue. By doing so, acupuncturist are able to treat a wide variety of aliments in just a few short treatments.

You Are Your Best Doctor

I teach all my patients about the importance of self care. People who can learn to recognize patterns and symptoms in their body before they manifest into full blown diseases can treat themselves and steer clear of unnecessary hospital visits. Below is a list of 5 things you can do on your own to decrease neck pain:

  1. Stretch. This is an easy one. Gently tilt your head over to your right shoulder. Place your right hand over the left side of your head and the left hand on your left shoulder. Now gently pull your head away from your left shoulder. You should feel a nice stretch on your left side. Repeat this exercise on the other side.
  2. Manage your stress. Activities like yoga, meditation, and creative expression can help you to manage your stress. Getting adequate sleep and food intake will also help you manage your stress and in turn, manage your pain.
  3. Replace your pillow every 6 months. Overtime pillows can flatten and lose shape causing them to stop providing support. Be sure your pillow is suitable for the position you like to sleep in whether you are a back or side sleeper.
  4. Keep your neck covered. Wind and cold can cause neck pain. Make sure to always keep your neck covered with a scarf, turtle neck, or collared shirt.
  5. Correct your posture. Look at yourself in the mirror. If your head rolls forward and your shoulders droop down then your posture is bad. You can correct this by lifting and rolling your shoulders back and also pushing your neck back. Try to picture a string connected to the top of your head pulling your head, neck, and spine up to the sky.

As always consult your primary care physician before making any major health decisions.

About Dawna Ara
Dawna is an acupuncturist, herbalist, functional medicine practitioner, a mom, wife, writer, nature lover, chef and whole foods advocate. She teaches how to live a healthy lifestyle through her website Eat Play Work Sleep.