At least 76.5 million Americans today suffer from chronic pain. Pharmaceutical drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids (Vicodin and OxyContin) are the conventional remedy for chronic pain, but the problem is that these drugs may increase your risk of various health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, liver failure, and drug dependency or addiction.
Dr. Joseph Mercola says: “If you visit a conventional physician for pain, there’s a very good chance you’ll leave with a prescription for a medication… However, there are better options than drugs for neck pain not only in terms of pain relief, but also in helping to treat the underlying cause of the pain so that healing can truly occur.”
A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that medication is not the best choice for neck pain treatment. For 12 weeks, 272 neck pain patients were observed. According to the researchers’ findings:
- 30 percent of those who exercised became pain-free
- 32 percent who received chiropractic care became pain-free
- 13 percent of those treated with medication became pain-free (link)
Can Exercise Really Relieve Neck Pain?
Chronic pain – particularly neck pain – is a common problem in the U.S. today. Seventy percent of people, at some point in their lives, will experience chronic neck pain.
A sedentary lifestyle or sedentary activities, such as working on a computer for long periods of time, may cause neck pain. The pain originates from the trapezius muscle or trapezius myalgia. Poor posture at work or during commute is also linked to many types of neck pain.
“It’s a vicious cycle as poor sitting posture leads to neck pain and once neck pain develops, it can make your posture even worse,” Dr. Mercola comments.
This proves that exercise is very important if you are suffering from chronic neck pain, since it helps improve posture, range of motion, and the functionality of your body. Exercise may help treat the underlying source of your pain, and may even prevent it from developing in the first place.
“Exercise helps prevent and relieve pain through a number of mechanisms including strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility,” Dr. Mercola adds.
Exercise Techniques to Relieve Chronic Neck Pain
The study mentioned above also noted that following a specific exercise program, which entails the use of hand weights, may help improve a person’s ability to maintain a neutral cervical posture during prolonged sitting. Thus, the poor posture-neck pain cycle is broken.
These five strength exercises, which target your shoulder and neck muscles, may help relieve neck pain:
- Dumbbell Shrug – Hold the hand weights at the side of your body while standing upright. In one fluid movement, lift your shoulders up towards your ears, and then slowly lower them down again. Make sure your jaw and neck are relaxed while you do this.
- One-Arm Row – Put one knee on a bench, and then lean on the same-side hand on the front of the bench. Using your free arm, pull the weight up until it touches your lower chest. Lower the weight down in controlled motion.
- Upright Row – Hold the hand weights and stretch out your arms in front of your body. Stand upright. Lift the weight in a straight line, as close to your body as possible. Let it reach the middle of your chest, with your elbows pointing up and out. Put the weights lower than the elbow during the entire exercise.
- Reverse Fly – Lie down on a bench at a 45 degree angle. Let the hand weights hang towards the floor. With your elbows slightly bent, lift the weights outwards and upwards, until they are horizontal. Afterwards, lower the weights in one controlled motion.
- Lateral Raise / Shoulder Abduction – Stand upright and put the hand weights at the side of your body. Slightly bending your elbows lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal. Lower them in one controlled motion.
The researchers recommend doing these exercises three times a week (every other day) and alternating between exercises. For example, you can do exercises 1, 3, and 5 on the first day and exercises 2 and 4 on the next day.
“When starting out, perform 2 sets of each exercise with eight to 12 repetitions for each set. Increase at your own pace to three sets for each. Depending on the exercise and your current muscle strength, the recommended beginner’s weight is between six to 12 pounds,” Dr. Mercola explains.
If you can comfortably execute the three sets, you can increase the weights. After at least four weeks, you can lower the number of repetitions of the last sets in order to increase the weight.
A Chiropractor May Also Help You Get Rid of Chronic Pain
Another natural and effective solution Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends is chiropractic care. A growing body of research now shows that consulting a chiropractor is safer and more effective than allopathic medical treatment, especially for chronic neck and back pain.
“I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body’s innate healing wisdom and far less reliance on Band-Aids like drugs and surgery,” he declares.
Chiropractic care may even affect basic physiological processes that also influence DNA repair and oxidative stress. This is why if you address any immediate spinal misalignment that is causing chronic pain, you may also address a deeper dysfunction in your body.
Studies have proven that therapeutic massage may offer significant improvements in body functions and help alleviate symptoms for those with neck pain. (link) Acupuncture, spinal manipulation, mobilization, and massage – which are known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments – may also be more effective than using a placebo, physical therapy, or conventional pain relief for those with neck or lower back pain. (link)
“So you have options when it comes to dealing with your pain, and there is good reason to explore them before you opt for medicated relief,” Dr. Mercola advises.
Dr. Mercola also recommends other natural tips and remedies to help alleviate chronic pain. Read the full article here.