Over lockdown many of our routines have changed. No longer are we all flooding into the office each morning, with many of us (who aren’t essential workers) working from home every weekday. Those who are essential workers have been under particularly tough pressures, and for the elderly it’s been difficult to hit pause on multiple outdoor excursions for their safety. All this means that we’re either working harder or spending longer in our homes, often sitting down for longer periods of time than we otherwise would, and it’s often easy to hit snooze on your exercise routine whilst gyms are shut and your favourite group fitness classes have been put on hold.
The neck and the shoulders are an area that have seen particular strain over the past year, with make-shift working-from-home office setups not being designed for longer term work. Whether you’re hunching to see a low computer screen, or breaking your back sitting on that wooden dining chair for hours on end, your neck and shoulders will be taking a hit and the problem should be addressed.
In this article, we’ll lay out the common causes of neck and shoulder pain, and explore some methods you can use at home to prevent future and treat existing discomfort.
What is Causing My Neck and Shoulder Pain?
There are multiple reasons why this upper-body region might be feeling some strain and tension, common causes could include:
- Bad posture
- Bad position whilst asleep
- Injuries to your soft tissue, usually a consequence of a sporting incident and accident.
- Worn joints – Osteoarthritis causes your cartilage to deteriorate as a natural process of aging.
- Certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or meningitis.
- Pinched nerve.
How Do I Fix My Discomfort?
If your neck and shoulder pain stems from a serious condition such as a disease, these methods are unlikely to cure the pain, but they may ease the discomfort. For those suffering from mild strain, there’s thankfully numerous methods to reduce tension.
For individuals working from home, your desk and seating arrangement might be contributing to your neck and shoulder pain. This is thankfully an easy fix. Firstly, invest in a good office chair; that one-piece wooden IKEA chair you’ve been using is not doing your neck, shoulder or back any favours. Look for one that has adjustable height and incline, and try to get one with a high back that can offer some shoulder and neck support, perhaps with a head rest. The next thing to do is observe how your computer screen / monitor is positioned.
Researchers reckon the optimal height is for the top of the screen to match your eye level, so you should raise or lower accordingly. You might also want to consider spicing up your day with a standing desk arrangement. This helps to break up the long hours spent in one place by changing your posture and using your legs. If you want to go all in, you can buy great motorised desks that will raise and lower from a sitting to standing height, or you can easily knock up your own DIY version by positioning a chair or small coffee table on your desk or dining table.
Sleep is arguably the most important time of the day, where we can replenish our bodies, minds and energy levels for the following day. Considering the amount of hours each night we’re in the same/similar position, it’s worth paying attention to anything that might be disrupting your perfect sleep. Are you a back, front or side sleeper? If you answered on your front, you may want to reconsider this for the long term, as this forces your head to turn to either side, putting strain on your neck.
Sleeping on your side will be better, but it is known to cause some stiffness in the shoulders, since you’ll be resting on one shoulder for extended periods. The best option therefore is the back position, although for snorers and people with sleep apnea this position can exaggerate the conditions. It’s also worth testing different pillow heights and hardness to see what works for you. Too many pillows will likely force your head to be tilted in an unfavourable position. Softer pillows are typically better than stiffer ones, but see what works for you; just try to put yourself into a position that keeps your spine the most aligned.
There are a few different options for effective pain relief medication that’s all over the counter and so doesn’t require any prescriptions. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are the most popular medications, usually ingested in tablet form, and are a quick and cost affordable method of pain treatment.
Voltarol pain relief gel could also be a good option, especially if you’ve suffered an injury or are swollen around the upper body, as it helps fight inflammation. The massaging of the gel onto the affected area can also be a soothing procedure.
For prescription and over-the-counter medication, visit the online pharmacy Pharmica. Stocking a range of treatments, from ED to weight loss to pain relief, this registered pharmacy is both affordable and highly trustworthy, and delivers all their treatments in discreet plain packaging to peace of mind. Check out their pain relief treatments (under the General Health tab) for the full range.
When it comes to the neck and shoulders, doing exercises little and often is the way to go. Break up your day with some stretches and you’ll build back mobility in the trouble areas. Here are some exercises to try:
Head Rotations – swivel your head in a circular motion slowly, reaching as far in each direction as you can. Do this for 5 rotations clockwise, and then repeat anticlockwise.
Shoulder rolls – bent over forwards, touch your holds to the front of their respective shoulder as if you were doing a chicken impression. In an almost swimming motion, slowly windmill your elbows in circles, first forwards then backwards.
There are many methods to combating upper body pain, but the effectiveness of these will depend on the nature of your pain and personal preference, so is subjective. See what works for you, and visit Pharmica.co.uk for treatments delivered to your door in the UK.