How Do You Relieve Neck Pain Without Medication?

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0,

9 Lesser-Known Tips for Easing Neck Pain

  1. Choose a neck-supporting chair

Additional tension is put on the spine when you hunch over with forward head posture. The maintenance of proper posture during the day keeps the head on the cervical spine naturally balanced and can minimize pain. A headrest will help maintain a neutral location of your cervical spine, so consider having and using an office chair with one. With your ears above your elbows, hold the back of your head comfortably against the headrest. Also, make it a point to use the headrest when you can on your recliner and in your car. Make sure that the level of your eyes is even at the top third of the computer display if you are operating on a computer screen. Often, consider a standing desk as a standing position that leads to a more natural position and stops us from hunching over.

  1. Try a water pillow

A major complaint of chronic neck pain is that it can interfere with a good night’s sleep and/or worsen when you wake up in the morning. While no one pillow type is the best for everyone who has neck pain, some people have found water pillows to be particularly helpful. With a water pillow, you can adjust the firmness by increasing or reducing the amount of water inside. Specifically, more water equals a firmer pillow; less water provides a softer pillow.

  1. See a physical therapist

Physical therapy is generally known to be a procedure aimed at healing from a given accident, such as from a sports injury or a crash. Although this is true, there may also be other advantages to physical therapy for the neck, such as:

  • Identifying poor posture or habits that may be contributing to pain and stiffness.
  • Teaching you how to reduce the risk of reinjury.
  • Strengthening the weak areas of the neck through targeted exercises.

To see if your chronic neck pain might be best treated with physical therapy, check with your doctor. Improving the strength and flexibility of the neck can help support the cervical spine better and decrease pain. Some research indicates that physical therapy, when paired with other therapies, such as aerobic exercise, can have even greater benefits.

  1. Give gua sha a chance

Gua sha usually requires the use of a spoon by a skilled practitioner to apply short strokes to the skin of the painful area. Gua sha is from Traditional Chinese Medicine and is used in areas of the body where blood supply is considered to be stagnant and energy-blocking (called “qi”). Although there is no clinical evidence for qi, some individuals have reported gua sha relief for neck pain. One small study found that gua sha is more than heat therapy to alleviate neck pain, but not all studies agree and more research is required.

In general, gua sha is considered healthy when done by a qualified professional who uses sterile equipment. It is not appropriate to apply this treatment to damaged or thinning skin. Tiny capillaries often split and trigger petechiae (red spots) to develop as part of regular gua sha strokes throughout the skin, which may be misinterpreted by some as a rash or bleeding from violence. Usually, the petechiae clear up within a few days.

  1. Get in the pool

For certain people who have neck or back discomfort, swimming is a perfect low-impact workout. Buoyancy is added by being in the bath, which means less tension on the spine. Consult your doctor or physical therapist about which swimming strokes can need to be avoided or changed, depending on the cause of your neck pain.

Swimming is too strenuous on the neck for some. In that case, water therapy is also a better alternative to land-based workouts, which is gentle activity performed in a heated swimming pool.

  1. Make time for mindful meditation

It can help alleviate tension and offer new insights by finding a peaceful place to relax and concentrate the mind. Regulated breathing techniques or guided visualization provide some examples of mindful meditation, such as imagining the pain going from your neck to your arm and then finally floating off your fingertips.

To help you get started with mindful meditation, there are free videos and applications online. Although mindful meditation does not work for everyone, there have been benefits recorded by some individuals.

  1. Keep a journal

Some research indicates that sharing feelings on a daily basis, such as in a private journal, may help alleviate stress and enhance thought. 6.7 It can also be helpful to make audio recordings for people who choose not to write.

Keeping a log of your thoughts and everyday events over time can also help you to recognise potential causes, such as certain foods or activities, that make your pain worse.

  1. Consider cognitive behavioral therapy

Chronic pain in the neck can be incredibly stressful, and treatment plans can be difficult and offer little to no results, obviously. By teaching new ways of thinking about problems, a cognitive behavioral therapist can be able to support you. You will be better able to follow the recovery plan for your neck pain with new techniques to concentrate more on the positives.

Studies on the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of neck pain have been inconsistent, although certain individuals have documented benefits. A cognitive behavioral therapist can also provide advice on mindful meditation and journaling.

  1. Be careful how you use your phone or tablet device

By cradling your phone while chatting, which puts extra stress on your cervical spine, you might not even understand that you’re aggravating your neck. Bending the head forward when looking down to read a phone or tablet for hours a day is often normal for individuals, which may lead to uncomfortable neck strains or text neck.

Avoid neck pain from phone use with these tips:

  • Use a hands-free headset to make calls.
  • When you’re browsing or texting, hold the phone up higher to decrease the angle at which you’re holding your neck.
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch your neck.

Are You Looking for Relief From Neck Pain?

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical neck pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Our highly experienced physical therapist will work with you to improve your function and relieve your pain. We start by assessing the body as a whole. Oftentimes the cause of pain or an injury extends far beyond just the body part or muscle hurting. Without taking a comprehensive look at your entire self, we would be doing you a disservice in fully helping you heal and preventing future limitations. We then move on to fixing your areas of limitation.  Not all diagnoses are created equal. One person with neck pain may have completely different limitations than the next person. Your recovery program needs to be specific to what YOUR body needs and not just the typical exercise program that you can find online. Just because your pain decreases or you can walk longer doesn’t mean that it is enough to get you functioning at the level you want to be. While this often signifies the end of care at your typical PT clinic we don’t stop providing guidance until we help you successfully meet every goal you set for yourself with us on day one. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!