How to make neck pain go away without seeing a doctor
Neck Pain Relief. Neck pain is common and in rarer situations, it can signal a serious medical problem. The neck is prone to injury, being the most flexible part of the spine, and yet is not well-protected by muscles.
Most cases of neck pain are caused by muscle strain resulting from poor posture or overuse. Examples of overuse include working for long hours at the computer, using smart devices, or carrying of heavy bags with a shoulder strap.
Other causes of neck pain include:
- Degeneration of facet joints in the neck
- Disc degeneration and “slipped” disc
- Nerve compression
- Injury, such as whiplash
- Rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine
- Cervical spondylosis
- Heart disease
Self-care methods of treating neck pain at home
If you have suffered an attack of acute neck pain, you need to determine its severity.
If the pain is minor, you can take these simple steps to relieve it:
- Wrap ice in a towel and apply to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, followed by a heat pack or a hot shower to loosen tight muscles.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage the pain.
- Take a break from sports and strenuous exercise.
- Do neck exercises daily, but stop immediately if you feel pain during exercise. Check out this link for do’s and don’ts on neck exercises.
- Maintain good posture.
- Massage the neck.
Non-surgical treatments for neck pain
Surgery is rarely needed in treating neck pain. Management of neck pain would first involve identifying its cause. Your doctor might order imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI tests to investigate the cause of the pain.
Treatment will be directed at the source of the problem and it could include:
- Physical therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Steroid injections
- Radiofrequency treatment
- Alternative methods like acupuncture and massage
When to see a doctor for your neck pain
If your neck pain does not go away after one week of self-care, please see your family doctor. He or she will assess you and manage your pain. If symptoms still do not improve after that, you should see an orthopaedic surgeon, spine surgeon or a pain specialist.
In particular, see a doctor immediately if you experience these dangerous signs of neck pain:
- Severe pain, which is sometimes accompanied by a severe headache
- Persistent pain for days without relief
- Pain which spreads down the arms or legs
- Pain which is accompanied by numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Pain which has resulted from an injury, such as a fall or a traffic accident
This article has been fact-checked by Dr Tan Tee Yong, Anaesthesiologist and Pain Specialist at Surgi-TEN Specialists, Farrer Park Hospital.