How many of us have experienced it, a pain in the neck that often radiates to the upper back, without sparing even the shoulders and arms, which can be affected by tingling and alterations in sensitivity, and the head, causing headaches and dizziness. This pain can have a non-negligible impact on daily life, making many movements difficult. In the acute phase and when pain is not frequent, over-the-counter drugs and specific creams are used. But are there any natural remedies for neck pain, especially when it tends to become chronic due, for example, to bad postures, anxiety that makes us stiffen or exposure to drafts at work? Let's try to understand this on the basis, as always, of scientific research.
Pillow with cherry stones
Applying a warm compress to the area is considered a beneficial treatment in case of neck pain (IQWiG, 2006). You can apply, as first aid, bottles filled with hot water. But also the pillows filled with cherry stones are excellent. These pillows should be heated in the oven and then placed on the painful area.
Massages with essential oils
Massages with essential oils are useful to relax muscle tension and counteract inflammation. As scientific studies have shown, a mixture of four essential oils, such as lavender, marjoram, black pepper and mint, dissolved in a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil can help (Ou et al, J Altern Complement Med, 2014 - Lakhan et al, Pain Res Treat, 2016). In 2 tablespoons of oil you can add 5 drops of lavender oil, 2 of marjoram, 2 of pepper and 1 of mint. The massage with rosemary oil should also be taken into consideration. In the Video blog section of the app you can see how to make rosemary infused oil at home, with a step-by-step explanation. Alternatively, you can use rosemary essential oil. Rosemary, in fact, helps to dissolve muscle stiffness and counteracts inflammation (Leporatti et al, J Ethnobiol Ethnomed., 2009).
Yoga and exercise
Those who suffer from neck pain, especially if it is chronic, tend to avoid physical exercise, thinking that this may worsen the pain. In fact, in the absence of overt trauma underlying the pain, it's always a good idea to stay active, despite the pain. In fact, physical exercise, as long as it is not demanding and tiring such as weight lifting, and stretching help prevent and counteract neck pain (IQWiG, 2006). Even yoga, with stretching exercises in the neck and back area, contributes, already in the short term, to reducing pain and stiffness and improving mood (Cramer et al, Clin Rehabil, 2017). An excellent exercise to perform every day is the following. Sit in a comfortable position and straighten your back. Exhale and slowly lower your head, remain in this position for a few moments, letting the force of gravity pleasantly stretch the muscles of the neck and back. Inhale and bring your head back straight. Exhale and turn your head back, always without exaggerating. Inhale and return to position, exhale and turn your head to the right, inhale and bring it back to the center, exhale and rotate it to the left, inhale and go back to the center. Here is another exercise. Exhale and stretch your neck and head forward, as if you want to have a look into something that is away from you, then, inhale, straighten your neck and bring your chin close to your neck. Breathing exercises are also very useful, which in yoga are called pranayama. In fact, often when we experience a period of great stress, we tend to contract the muscles and assume incorrect positions, which can trigger neck pain (Kim et al, J Phys Ther Sci, 2016). Pranayamas, such as alternating nostril breathing, can help to relax tensions. Sit cross-legged or on your knees. With the thumb of the right hand, plug the right nostril, inhale for 4 seconds. Remove the thumb and plug the left nostril with the other fingers of the hand, exhale for 6 seconds, inhale for 4 seconds, then detach the fingers and plug the right nostril with the thumb. Exhale for 6 seconds, then inhale for 4 seconds. Continue like this.