Should You Put Heat On A Stiff Neck?

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What Helps a Stiff Neck

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Stiff neck suffers, will hear conflicting advice on whether you should put cold or put heat on a stiff neck.

And, it really depends on whether the sore neck is an acute problem or a chronic one. A general rule of thumb is to ice for acute pain and heat for chronic pain.

Heat will increase blood flow when applied to the skin so can be invaluable for treating chronic neck pain and poorly healed neck injuries.

Waking up with a stiff neck caused during sleep process

A stiff neck often caused by sleeping in a draft or awkward position will also benefit from the application of heat. As heat penetrates the painful area, blood circulation increases due to the dilation of blood vessels. This increase in blood flow reduces inflammation, brings extra oxygen and carries away waste and toxins. As this process takes place, pain will reduce.

Regency Hot/Cold Cervical Pillow with Case

Features of the Regency Hot/Cold Cervical Pillow: Measures 14″ x 5″. Provides relief from neck pain and headaches. Pillow density can be adjusted for individual comfort. Can be completely deflated for traveling ease. Washable pillow case. Hot/Cold pack can be frozen or heated in boiling water.

Heat should not be used on an acute neck injury or where discoloration or swelling is present as it may increase internal bleeding.

Water is a more effective heat conductor than air and the neck can tolerate moist heat at a temperature higher than that of dry heat. Many people use hot water bottles for neck pain relief. The bottle should be half filled and the excess air removed helping it conform more easily to the body. The temperature should be checked to make sure it isn’t too hot and wrapping a towel or cover around it will make it safer and more comfortable.

A hot shower with the shower head directed on the painful area can also provide relief for stiff neck. While soaking in a hot tub is traditionally a method for soothing aches and pains, lying in a tub does not promote good neck posture.

Products On The Market Aimed At Relieving Stiff Neck

There are a variety of products on the market designed to give neck pain relief. Specialized neck wraps containing gel can be heated by using a microwave or by soaking in boiling water for a set period. These wraps are designed to prevent burning and mould to the contours of the neck for maximum pain relief.

Herbal neck wraps, containing spices and herbs such as ginger, black pepper and juniper berries can be heated in a microwave and will dispense moist heat and the relaxing properties of the herbs.

Elasto-Gel Hot/Cold Cervical Support Roll, Large (4 in x 10 in)

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Neck roll pillows, providing a contour that supports the natural cervical spine curvature can be found with optional non-toxic heat pack inserts. Made from memory foam these pillows mould around the neck and retain heat.

Electrical heating pads are also available and mould well to body contours due to  flexibility. They can cause irritation or burning if set too high and if you fall asleep. And, some electric heating pads may use dry heat, it is best to purchase models with moist heating pads for soothing penetrating heat.

Shoulder and Neck Heating Pad by Theratherm

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There are a number of topical products designed to create heat on painful areas. Some may cause a numbing sensation and prevent the patient from feeling exactly how hot they are. Products such as Deep Heat containing menthol can be used with caution if applied to cool skin as they have been known to create a burning sensation when the skin is warm.

Some herbal-based products are gentler on the skin and if applied after using heat therapy will penetrate deeper through the skin.

Heat is a useful medium in relieving neck pain as long as it is used carefully and safely. So, go ahead- use heat on that stiff neck.

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Therapeutic Pillows Good Spine Alignment

Therapeutic pillows

The Bodyline Maxi-Rest Cervical Pillow: Now you can get a good night’s sleep thanks to the relaxing, effective neck support of the Bodyline Cervical Pillow. The popular dual roll design allows your head to relax comfortably in a center depression with the gentle, effective support of the smaller or larger outer roll. By helping the neck maintain its natural curvature, the Cervical Pillow provides soothing therapeutic support. And the convoluted top surface allows maximum air circulation as well. Covered in a washable poly/cotton zippered pillow case.

Sleep Joy ViscoFresh Memory Foam

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Therapeutic pillows for sleeping that keep good spine alignment is a smart step to preventing neck pain and stiffness when you wake up. When selecting a pillow, not only comfort should be considered, but also consider whether it can provide proper support for the neck and spine to prevent damage and aggravation of any existing problems.

Good posture is essential through both day and night and using a suitable pillow will reduce pressure on the head and neck and keep the body in the correct spine alignment throughout the night. It is useful to have a pillow which can be adjusted to suit individual shape and curvature.

Therapeutic Pillows Reduce Head Pressure

A pillow should mold to your shape to relieve pressure points and maintain a suitable height of 4 to 6 inches to properly support the head and neck. Any higher and it can create a muscular strain on the back of the neck and shoulders when sleeping on the back and side.

Suitable therapeutic pillows should be firm and offer support. Fillings such as cotton, wool and memory foam offer good support, while feather pillows, however romantic, can be too soft. Grain or buckwheat pillows are very effective and comfortable when used for people with spinal conditions.

Support Pillow, White, Allergy-Free

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Body length pillows are useful for those who sleep on their sides as they support the head and neck as well as the legs and knees at the same time. These pillows give greater comfort than using separate pillows. They also offer abdominal support for pregnancy or obesity, preventing the abdomen from lying on the mattress and twisting the spine out of alignment.

Clinton Positioning Pillow, Wedge, 18 x 24 x 6, Cream

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Pillows supporting the knees are often wedge shaped and designed to relieve neck and back pressure. When lying on the back the pillow should sit under the knees to reduce pressure on the lower back. When lying on the side, the pillow should sit between the knees, preventing the uppermost leg from rotating downwards and twisting the spine.

Therapeutic Pillows Support The Neck

Orthopedic or neck pillows are shaped to fill the spaces under the head and neck and provide a deeper depression where the head lies than conventional pillows. This gives extra support to the neck, and helps with proper spine alignment, and provides both comfort and relief to those with existing neck injuries.

Jobri Travel Memory Pillows,

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“U” shaped travel pillows fit snugly round the neck and offer support when sleeping upright, preventing the head from tipping to one side and relieving the muscles that keep the head up.

Lower back or lumbar support pillows are useful when sitting for long periods, filling the gap between the lower spine and the back of the chair and preventing the spine from slouching. Also useful when driving or as a passenger in a car, they support the lumbar region and aid the spinal shock absorbing ability by keeping it in correct alignment.

Careful choosing of the right types of therapeutic pillows for individual needs will ensure that the body is given the opportunity to rest the best way it can and in a correct spine alignment position, essential for good health and comfortable sleep.

How Long Do You Leave Ice On A Stiff Neck?

ice for neck pain

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Neck Ice Wrap by Pro Ice

Using ice is a cheap effective way to relieve stiff neck pain. Known as cryotherapy by the medical profession it is a useful tool when tissue is damaged and/or inflamed. It is a natural analgesic with the ability to numb nerve endings, slowing metabolic activity and constricting capillaries.

Ice is commonly used during the initial stages of minor neck injury or stiffness when the skin may be red and hot, sensitive to the touch or there may be swelling. It is also helpful with chronic overuse injuries and inflammatory arthritis.

Ice is a short- term solution and may stimulate minor tissue healing processes. If used carefully it can bring almost instant relief from pain. Care must be taken however not to damage the tissue with prolonged use of ice causing frostbite. So, it is important to know how long to leave ice on a stiff neck. And the answer is- it depends. It depends on the type of ‘ice’ you use.

Gel Packs for Cryotherapy And Neck Pain

Gel ice packs and bags can provide cold relief quickly. Ice cups; such as the CRYOCUPÔ provide bare ice applied directly to the skin, melting water into crevices, which conducts heat away from the skin. Ice cubes held in a dishtowel can be effective for small areas even bags of frozen peas also give good results on larger areas.

Medical ice packs which are crushed to activate, can be convenient though not as effective as raw ice. Those with cold-sensitivity may find raw ice too uncomfortable and should use covered ice packs, using a dish cloth or similar if a homemade ice pack is being used.

Elasto-Gel Cervical Collar Wrap - Fibromyalgia Pain ReliefIf deeper tissues require healing then gentler, slower cooling is required and this is where ice packs rather than raw ice are more suitable.

There are specialized cryotherapy devices, often found in sports injury clinics that use a cooler, water and a pad applied to the skin. When this eventually warms, the device can be reactivated to cool the pad down.  These are safe to leave on the skin due to the warming effect.

Using Straight Ice for Neck Pain

Pro Ice® Scapula/Cervical Collar Wrap

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Pro Ice® Scapula
Cervical Collar Wrap

The rule of thumb for safety when using raw ice is when the skin becomes numb it is time to stop.

It is important to keep moving raw ice in a steady pattern over the inflamed area. Massage for 1-3 minutes or until it is numb then let the tissue warm up. Once it has warmed up the process can be repeated as often as required.

Tissue damage only occurs after sustained use, long after the skin has gone numb. When the signs of injury begin to fade, the icing process should be discontinued.

When using covered ice packs, these can be reapplied as many times as your neck pain requires, for 48-72 hours or until the inflammation is reduced. Once again, if the skin begins to numb, remove the pack and allow the tissues to warm up. One last warning- it is important not to fall asleep when using an ice pack.

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Correct Way to Sleep on a Pillow to Reduce Neck Pain

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Duro-Med Stress-Ease Support Pillow: Offers total cervical support, whether you sleep on your side or back. Ideal for post-whiplash syndrome and headache sufferers. Quality polyester fiber fill holds its shape and lasts twice as long as the average foam pillow. Hypoallergenic and machine washable.

Reduce neck pain, there is nothing more frustrating or painful than waking up in the morning with neck pain, how to reduce it. The most common cause of morning neck pain is your pillow. In this article we are going to look at what to look for in pillows to relieve neck pain and the correct way to sleep on your pillow to reduce neck pain.

Choosing the Right Pillow to reduce Neck Pain

When choosing support pillows for neck pain it is important to pick one that supports the head and neck in the correct position to reduce neck tension and further damage to an existing injury.  A good pillow conforms to body shape, giving support without applying pressure and ensuring that weight is spread evenly along the spine and vertebrae.

                      Lying On Your Back

A much sort after pillow

When lying on the back, the pillow should support the neck, head and shoulders keeping the curvature of the spine in a natural position. The pillow should be kept low to prevent the chin tilting which can put strain on the neck.

Any excessive pressure to the neck in this position can irritate sensitive muscles. The facet joints, also known as synovial joints, which lie in between the vertebrae, can impinge nerves or become inflamed when a pillow is too high and puts pressure on the neck and spine.

Any existing neck problems may be amplified causing a delay to recovery. Placing a pillow under the knees can also lessen back strain and is the most suitable and gentle position for the back.

Lying On Your Side can help reduce Neck Pain

Pillow to Reduce Neck Pain

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Memory Foam Knee Pillow

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When lying on the side, a pillow should support the head and neck so that the spine remains straight in a horizontal position.  The head should not be tilted at an awkward angle and weight should be distributed evenly. The pillow should fill the space between the mattress and the ear to prevent the neck bending awkwardly.

A small pillow placed under the waist may create additional support and comfort, as may a pillow between the knees. By changing sides when sleeping and repositioning the pillow, pain can be hugely reduced.

Sleeping On Your Stomach

When sleeping on the stomach, a flat pillow should be used or no pillow at all to protect the head and neck and prevent them from turning in an unnatural and awkward position. Another pillow placed under the stomach helps prevent the spine from arching and keeps it aligned naturally.

Core Ladies Comfort Cushion, Standard, Gray

Features of the Core Ladies Comfort Cushion: Provides face-down comfort for large-breasted patients. Standard version features a layer of resilient foam. Deluxe version features an additional layer of memory foam for added comfort. Both cushions come in a durable, easy-to-clean vinyl cover. Available in blue, black or gray.

Many pillows can aggravate the shoulders if positioned incorrectly and this in turn can aggravate the neck by setting off spasms in the trapezius muscles. These muscles span the neck, back and shoulders, performing many actions including moving the neck in different directions.

By placing the shoulder slightly forwards on the mattress when sleeping on the side, pressure is removed from these muscles and the risk of forcing the shoulder blade towards the spine is lessened. People who often suffer from neck pain occasionally find that putting extra pillows under their arms for support can also increase comfort and reduce neck pain.

Having good posture in the waking hours, with ear, shoulder and hip in alignment can decrease existing pain and prevent further aggravation. It is important to maintain this correct posture when sleeping to protect the neck from inadvertent damage, so using suitable pillows in a correct manner is vitally important.

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Body Mechanics for Retail Workers

body mechanics for retail workersBody mechanics is cause of neck pain. Body mechanics is a phrase used to describe everyday movements made during normal activities such as sitting, standing, lifting and pulling.  Body mechanics can contribute to neck pain, back problems and other bone and muscle problems if performed incorrectly.

Retail workers are especially prone to neck pain due to incorrect use of body mechanics. But, there are various ways to correctly perform activities if you work in the retail industry to minimize the risk of injury to your neck, back and shoulders.

Wearing shoes that offer support for the arches of your feet as well as your back are important if you stand for long periods of time. Feet should really be placed flat to the floor, kept roughly one foot apart and your back should be held straight. Rest periods are essential if you are on your feet for any length of time.

Body Mechanics and Sit-Down Jobs

If your work involves sitting for lengthy periods, a straight- backed chair should be used with a pillow, or even a rolled-up blanket, for lower back support. Your feet should be positioned flat on the floor. Breaks should be taken regularly to move around. Checkout workers should sit within easy reach of the items they are handling so as to avoid slouching or inappropriate back and spine positioning.

Jobs That Require Lifting

Work activities may involve lifting and it is important to test the load, checking the weight to make sure it can be lifted safely. The back should be kept in a natural curve and bending should take place at the hips or knees. A wide base of support should be maintained to reduce slipping.

Objects should be held closely to your body to reduce back strain and your body should not be twisted. Movements should be kept smooth and not jerky.

Keeping the stomach muscles taut helps the abdominal area to assist in lifting reducing strain on the lower back. Pushing rather than pulling utilizes the body weight safely.

Keeping the lifting area clear of obstacles and pre-planning heavy lifting will minimize the risk of injury. Heavy objects may require the assistance of others and it is important to maintain good communication to reduce the risk of unexpected jerky movements. An assistive device such as a dolly or cart may be required for really heavy objects.

Keeping up Good Body Mechanics in the Work Place

Repetitive lifting should be eliminated wherever possible and loads should be broken up into several smaller loads if possible.

When placing items on low shelves it is best to kneel or squat keeping the back straight. The same applies for retrieving items that should be held close to the body before standing up, using the leg muscles and keeping the back straight. Activities that are above chest level should involve the use of a step stool or long handled reaching tool.

When retrieving items from a grocery cart keep one hand should remain on the cart for support, while you reach with your other arm to pick up the item. Your back should be kept straight while pivoting from the hips, and the leg opposite to the supporting arm should be lifted. Once the item has been picked up the hips should be slowly straightened and the leg lowered.

Paying attention to how you move on the job and being conscientious about proper body mechanics can help you to avoid debilitating neck pain.

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