Managing Neck Pain


  • 1.

    The Physical Therapist

    Alot of neck pain comes from repeating tasks over and over, like sitting in front of a computer or carrying heavy bags. This can weaken the muscles. Set up your workstation so the top of the monitor is roughly even with the top of your head, and get a chair with good back support. Get up every half hour for 15 seconds. Self-massage may help too.
    — Evan Johnson, Director of Physical Therapy, The Spine Center, New York City

  • 2.

    The Acupuncturist

    Acupuncture gets the energy and blood flowing more smoothly, and works well for neck pain. An acupuncturist may place needles in the base of your head, on the tops of your shoulders or even in your hands and ankles. And it’s fast-acting: You may feel relief in just one to three sessions.
    — Melanie Fernandi LAC, New York City

  • 3.

    The Nutritionist

    The things that ease arthritis pain may work for the neck, too, since they help fight inflammation, the source of some neck aches. Ask your doctor about fish oil, magnesium and the supplement boswellia. Ask about vitamin B12 injections, too, which may provide some relief, though we don’t really know why.
    — Dwight Mckee, MD, Aptos, California

  • 4.

    The Neurosurgeon

    First we rule out red flags like trauma, cancer and infection. If something specific caused the pain, it should go away with rest, judicious use of anti-inflammatories and posture changes. If you’ve had the problem awhile, you may need a diagnostic evaluation (MRI, X-ray, injections) to find the cause (a degenerated disk, an arthritic bone spur). Surgery is the last resort since it’s the riskiest treatment.
    — Paul C. McCormick, MD, Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City

  • 5.

    Bottom Line

    Do your own physical therapy. Bend at the hip, allowing your arms to dangle toward your feet and your head to hang without tension. As you breathe slowly in and out, gently swing your head from side to side to loosen the neck. You’ll become aware of the joy that lengthening these muscles can offer. Bend your knees as you slowly come back to a standing position.

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