Neck pain and can’t get to the chiropractor?
Chiropractor Fiona Ellis shares some tips on how to manage neck symptoms if your neck is playing up whilst the Clinic is closed. Although this advice was written specifically with the neck in mind, the basic principles apply to any type of muscle and joint pain. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Use hot and cold packs to manage your symptoms.
If your neck pain is acute (i.e. recent onset) use an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas), wrapped so the icy surface is not in direct contact with the skin. This provides natural pain relief. Apply the ice pack for 10-15 minutes several times during the day.
Heat can help relax tight muscles and ease stiff joints, especially if a problem is chronic (i.e. longer term). You can use a hot water bottle, or a “wheat bean bag”, or an electric heat pad. Heat can feel comforting, but do not be tempted to sit for prolonged periods with a hot pack on. If you aren’t sure whether to use hot or cold, try using a combination of both – a hot pack for 15 minutes followed by an ice pack for 5-10 mins.
When applying a hot or cold pack, either lie down or recline back if you are in a sitting position. these positions are better that sitting upright with the pack draped around your shoulders, which may encourage you to sit with your head hanging forwards. This posture can put additional strain on the neck so may not be helpful.
2. Keep the neck moving, even if it hurts a bit.
If your discomfort is up to a 3/10 on a pain scale, movement is beneficial. Movement helps to desensitise the nerves, thus allowing for more normal motion patterns. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we know that moving around when you are in pain does not mean that you are harming yourself. Providing that your pain level is low-to-moderate, gentle movement is one of the most therapeutic things that you can do. Fiona has made a short video to demonstrate some of the movements that you could do.
3. Use painkillers (unless recommended not to by your GP).
Reducing pain allows for easier and more normal movement, which often speeds recovery. There are a number of over-the-counter options for pain relief, but be aware that some medications and medical conditions may restrict your choices for pain relieving medicine. Ask the Pharmacist or your GP for advice if you are unsure about the best medication to take.
4. Stretch tight muscles.
Initially, stretching tight muscles can give good pain relief. Here are some of the commonly used stretches that can help if your neck is feeling tight. Click on the link to see some short films showing how to perform these stretches.
The small muscles at the base of the skull. These suboccipital muscles often contribute to headaches and tenderness at the back of the skull. They can become tight if you have been sitting or standing with your chin poking out, as often happens when people are working on screens for a prolonged time.
The upper trapezius. This is the muscle that runs across the back of your shoulders, and runs up the sides of your neck. when it is tight it can feel like a coat hanger, spreading across the top of your back and up the neck, then sometimes radiating pain over the top of the head to above the eyes.
The anterior neck muscles. The muscles down the front of the neck also become overactive and tight if you have a forward head posture, where your ear is in front of your shoulder as your head hangs forwards. They can be related to jaw pain, throat tightness, face pain and headaches at the top of the head.
5. Avoid aggravating activities.
Aggravating activities may include looking down at screens, doing small work or painting ceilings. Remember to take regular breaks to vary your neck position. If you are working from home, check our blog about optimising your work station set up.
This may seem difficult at a time like this, but is hugely beneficial to try to let go of stress. Try using a meditation app like Calm or Headspace, or get lost in an activity that you love; maybe reading, colouring books, or gardening. Spending time in Nature is known to help manage stress, so spend as much time as possible in the fresh air.
Do you need further help?
The chiropractors are all now offering video consultations, which are bookable online. These online consultations enable us to provide specific advice tailored to your requirements, and are offered at a significant discount on our usual fees due to the limitations of the process (i.e. not hands on treatment). However, if you are unsure whether you want to book an online consultation, or just want quick advice, please do send the Clinic an email and we will try to get back to you within 24 hours.
Our telephone messages are being checked several times per week, but we are checking the Clinic Reception email address, firstname.lastname@example.org every day.
You can also send an email directly to your chiropractor on their personal Clinic address:
The chiropractors will get back to you when they pick up your message. Please do get in touch if there is anything we can do to help you.