The neck, with its intricate structure and wide range of mobility, needs to remain in good condition to support healthy functioning and movement of your body. When there is pain in the neck making it difficult to move your head in any direction, it can be hard to carry out day-to-day activities.
Neck pain results in a sharp or dull aching in the neck, shoulder and nearby muscles. This can even cause headaches, numbness, tingling, stiffness, tenderness, difficulty swallowing and swelling in the neck.
You can suffer from neck pain for a variety of reasons. The main cause is muscle tension and strain that can be due to poor posture, working at a desk for long hours without taking breaks, sleeping with your neck in a bad position and jerking the neck during exercise.
Other causes include nutritional deficiencies, neck injury, nerve compression, cervical spondylosis, fibromyalgia, etc. In rare cases, it can also be caused by infections of the spine or even cancer that involves the spine.
Most of the time, neck pain is not a serious condition and can be treated effectively using safe, natural methods.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for neck pain.
1. Ice Pack
Ice is one of the simplest remedies for neck pain. The cold temperature will help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. A bag of frozen peas also works well.
- Put some crushed ice cubes in a plastic bag.
- Wrap the plastic bag in a thin towel.
- Put the ice pack on your neck for not more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Follow this remedy every two to three hours for the first 24 hours.
Note: Never apply ice directly on your skin.
Hydrotherapy is another very effective home remedy for neck pain. It can easily be done at home in the shower. The force of the water on the affected body part will help reduce pain as well as soreness.
- Target the neck area with warm water for three to four minutes in the shower.
- Switch to cold water and target the neck for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat as many times as necessary.
While the hot water will increase blood circulation and ease off stiff muscles, cold water will help reduce inflammation.
Note: While you are in the shower, make sure to keep your neck straight, and do not turn your neck in any direction.
3. Epsom Salt Bath
An Epsom salt bath can help relieve muscle tension, reduce stress and give you instant pain relief. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt works as a natural muscle relaxant that helps reduce swelling and pain.
- Add one to two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath.
- Soak your body, especially the neck area, in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do this daily until your neck pain is healed completely.
Note: Avoid this remedy if you have heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can relieve neck pain quickly. Plus, it has a number of important nutrients to eliminate the possibility of nutrient-deficiency related pain.
- Soak a paper towel in apple cider vinegar. Place it over the affected part of your neck. Leave it on for a couple of hours. Repeat twice daily until the pain is gone.
- Alternatively, add two cups of apple cider vinegar to lukewarm bath water. Soak in it for at least 15 minutes. Do this once daily until you recover completely.
5. Neck Exercises
There are a wide range of motion exercises that help reduce neck pain. Exercise will strengthen and stabilize your neck muscles as well as your upper back. Also, it will help to reduce stress.
Two types of neck exercises in particular can help ease and prevent neck pain. Apply moist heat to the neck before performing the exercises.
- Slowly rotate your neck in a circular motion, clockwise as well as anti-clockwise, to help stretch out the agitated muscles. This may cause a little pain in the beginning, but it will ultimately help your neck loosen up and heal.
- You can also move your neck slowly back and forth as well as from side to side.
Each exercise should be done five times per session, three sessions per day. If it hurts too much, don’t do the exercises and consult your doctor.
6. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil can be used to relieve neck pain. It is very effective when used along with massage therapy. Massage can help ease tense muscles and may help you sleep better.
- Take a hot bath or shower to relax your sore neck muscles.
- Rub some lavender oil on your neck and shoulders.
- Apply gentle pressure in small circular motions to massage the affected area for 10 minutes.
- Repeat daily as needed.
You can even dilute lavender oil with coconut oil or olive oil.
Note: Don’t massage the neck area if it causes pain.
7. Blackstrap Molasses
If your neck pain is linked to a nutrient deficiency, specifically a lack of calcium and potassium, then blackstrap molasses is a great remedy for you. It has an abundance of calcium and potassium, which are essential for maintaining strong muscles, bones and joints.
- Mix one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in a glass of warm water.
- Drink this mixture twice daily until you get relief from the pain.
You can also use turmeric to treat neck pain. Turmeric’s curcumin is an important phytochemical that acts like an anti-inflammatory agent and hence helps ease pain. Also, turmeric helps improve blood circulation, which helps speed up the recovery process.
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk.
- Heat it over low heat for five minutes.
- Remove from heat, add little honey and allow it to cool.
- Drink this twice a day until your pain is gone completely.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that also improves circulation and blood flow to the affected area. This in turn helps reduce pain as well as inflammation.
- Cut a small piece of ginger root into small slices. Boil the ginger slices in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink the tea. You can drink up to three cups of ginger tea daily for a few days.
- Alternatively, mix one-half teaspoon of powdered dry ginger in a glass of water and drink it three times daily for a few days.
- You can also make a ginger compress. Wrap three tablespoons of freshly grated ginger in a piece of cheesecloth. Put the cheesecloth in hot water for 30 seconds. Allow it to cool and then place it on the neck area for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat a few times daily until you get relief.
10. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which has analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce neck pain.
- Add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to two tablespoons of lukewarm olive oil. Mix it well and then apply it on the sore muscles in your neck area. Follow this simple remedy twice daily until the pain is gone.
- You can also get a capsaicin cream and rub it gently on your neck and back muscles for quick relief. You can use this cream a few times a day.
Additional Tips and Suggestions
- Lie down without a pillow to give your neck muscles a break from working.
- Reduce stress as it can trigger muscle tension.
- Do abdominal breathing exercises in an open and silent place. Also practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.
- Practice good posture. Try to maintain the head and spine balance in relation to gravity.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Go swimming regularly to strengthen the neck and back muscles.
- Always sit on a comfortable chair while working.
- Hold your phone to your ear; do not crimp it between your neck and shoulder.
- Sleep on a firm mattress and keep your head aligned with your spine while sleeping.
- Stop smoking as it can delay the healing process.
- Avoid driving until your neck pain and stiffness are gone.
If neck pain continues for more than a week, is severe or is accompanied by other symptoms like a lump in your neck, fever, swollen glands, pain in the arms, nausea and vomiting, then you must seek medical attention.