Many people suffer from neck pain, and, according to NHS Choices, it is not normally something to worry about.
It is usually caused by sleeping awkwardly, or by straining it during exercise, or perhaps from being sat at a computer too long. Two out of three of us will have neck pain at some point in our lives.
One survey done in the UK found that, of adults aged 45-75 years, about 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 5 men had current neck pain.
Anxiety and stress can sometimes cause tension in your neck muscles, which can cause pain in your neck.
As with so many things, when it comes to neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It’s true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to minimize your risk.
The following are a few tips we have found in order to relieve neck pain:
Managing Neck Pain
- Painkillers - to ease the pain. Try a pain relieving gel in the affected region if needs be. Painkillers are helpful until the pain eases. Paracetamol at full strength is often sufficient – an adult dose is 2 x 500mg tablets, twice a day. You might want to try anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen, but check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking these, as they are not suitable for everybody and can interact badly with other meds you may be taking.
- A hot or cold pack - There is disagreement about which you should apply to strained areas – heat or cold – but try both and see what works for you. A study into heat or cold packs for treatment on back and neck pain was carried out in 2010 at Stony Brook University, their conclusion was that heat and cold treatments were little if no more effective than ibuprofen. However, there were outliers in the study, so they recommended that heat and cold therapy should be available as an option to those who want to try it.
- Sleep – Harvard Medical School gives a few pointers on the topic of sleep and neck pain - Use a feather pillow, or alternatively, a memory foam one – these conform to the shape of your neck; try to use only 1 pillow at night; if you use a good pillow and mattress, your spine should be straight when you sleep; try not to sleep on your front – it puts strain on your neck. They conclude that it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.
- Posture – If you work in an office, make sure you maintain a correct posture as much as you can – keep your feet flat on the floor, your legs at right angles, with your back properly supported. Your arms should be again at right angles to your torso and the desk. Your screen should be at eye level to avoid straining. Make sure you get up and walk around every half an hour so, and stretch your muscles.
- Neck collar –NHS Choices advises to steer clear from these, citing the lack of evidence in neck collars’ effectiveness and that it generally considered best to try to keep your neck mobile, to keep the muscles active. A 2008 Harvard study found that for whiplash neck pain patients, the neck brace effect was negligible; their conclusion was that it was better to keep the neck moving rather than let it seize up, rather like NHS conclusion.
- Physio – The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy give some help and advice here. There is also a directory for you to find a Chartered Physiotherapist that might be able to help with your malady.
- When to see the doctor – As mentioned at the start of this post, most neck pain is short term and not serious. If you find yourself having any of the symptoms below, you should go and see you GP, according to the charity Arthritis Research.
- If you have any symptoms other than pain and stiffness.
- have pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms
- have sudden severe pain after a fall or injury
- suddenly develop neck stiffness along with stiffness in both shoulders
Neck Pain and Private Medical Insurance (PMI)
Many people are becoming interested in how they can safeguard against health issues such as neck pain in innovative ways. One of these ways you can protect your future is health insurance.
If you have neck pain right now and are looking for coverage from PMI for your condition, I’m afraid you wouldn’t be covered, due to the exclusion of pre-existing conditions – anything you suffer from before you take out cover, is not covered.
However, most conditions - developed after the cover date - are covered, including serious illnesses like cancer.
So if you value yours and your family’s future, consider taking out a PMI policy with us – and get protected.