It’s quite common for patients to end up in their doctor’s office complaining of an aching stiff neck with no obvious cause for their pain. In fact, I see many of these folks myself.
Sometimes, even after imaging their cervical spine and performing a clinical exam, there are STILL times when there’s no clear cause for a patient’s neck pain. Typically when this happens the patient gets diagnosed with muscle spasms or muscle strain.
Stubborn neck pain like this can hang around for two or three weeks. The usual treatment in these cases is often rest, ice, and heat to alleviate the symptoms. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe a muscle relaxer to provide temporary relief.
But what it you found out that could avoid ever having to suffer through another bout of mysterious neck pain? Or that in a large number of cases one of two simple solutions can often resolve the problem once and for all?
You’d probably wonder why your doctor never told you about them in the first place. And that’s a great question.
Let’s fix that now.
2 simple solutions to relieve common neck pain
If you’ve found yourself suffering with mysterious neck pain from time to time one of these incredibly simple solutions (or better yet, a combination of both) could keep you out of your doctor’s office and pain free…
Stiff Neck Solution #1: Pitch your Pillow:
Be honest. How long have you had your pillow?
The truth is most of us hold on to our pillows for far too long. Research has shown that a pillow needs to be replaced when it can no longer maintain its shape.
In fact, this is probably the single most common reason for mysterious neck pain. Using an old pillow that’s seen better days can cause you to sleep in an unnatural position putting strain on your neck muscles and leaving you with an aching and stiff neck in the morning.
If you use polyester pillows many sleep experts recommend pitching them every 6 months. If your pillow is made from memory foam it should be replaced when it no longer returns to its normal shape after compression.
In other words, if there’s a permanent indent where your head goes it’s time to toss it!
A number of sleep experts recommend that you get yourself two pillows… one that’s firm and another that’s soft. That way you can adjust based on what feels most comfortable for you and what gives your neck the support it currently needs.
Stiff Neck Solution #2: Simple Stretches:
Gentle neck stretches can be a great way to head off muscle spasms, as well as ease them if you’re suffering through a bout right now.
Simple range of motion stretching exercises—during which you gently stretch your neck muscle from side to side and up and down (no bouncing please!)—can go a long way towards easing the tension in your muscles, while helping you maintain a range of motion.
But remember to talk with your doctor before starting any new stretching regimen. Also, if your neck pain doesn’t go away, or the pain radiates down to your shoulders, elbows or hands, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any serious issues that need to be addressed.
Dr. Sinicropi attended the prestigious Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Medical School and completed a combined Research/Clinical Residency at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital. Following residency he sub-specialized in Spinal Surgery through successful completion of the Kenton D. Leatherman Spinal Fellowship at the University of Louisville, where he trained with some of the most well respected Neurosurgeons and Orthopedic spinal surgeons in the United States.
In 2006, Dr. Sinicropi joined Midwest Spine & Brain Institute and quickly developed one of the busiest practices in the Midwest. In 2012, Dr. Sinicropi was named the President and CEO of Midwest Spine & Brain Institute and has continued to expand the Vision of “Right Diagnosis Allows the Right Treatment.”
Dr. Sinicropi has garnered a reputation for providing patients with REAL ANSWERS to even the most challenging diagnosis. Patients who are told that they need spinal surgery often travel to see Dr. Sinicropi to see if there is another potentially less invasive option for them. Patients who have been told, “There is nothing we can do” having sometimes endured years of treatments and incorrect diagnosis, are relieved to hear that there is a solution to their condition.
What propelled Dr. Sinicropi’s interest in orthopedics evolved from an injury as a ten-year old when he underwent orthopedic surgery on his left elbow. Dr. Sinicropi said, “Going through the process of surgery and recovery was fascinating to me as I saw how the doctors were able to remedy my once severely deformed arm and return me back to living a normal childhood. It was at that moment I knew that I wanted to be involved in the medical community.”
With a fitness routine that consists of workouts up to 5x/week, Dr. Sinicropi understands the importance of having proper weight training mechanics as it aids in injury prevention. He is also knowledgeable on how to maintain the proper diet and the importance of sleep to general health, productivity, and longevity. Dr. Sinicropi also follows extreme weather patterns, having a fascination with natural phenomenon’s like hurricanes, tornadoes, nor’easter’s, droughts, floods, etc. Dr. Sinicropi currently resides in Minnesota with his wife and their two sons.
Latest posts by Dr. Stefano Sinicropi (see all)
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