Neck Pain Neck Massage

By Mary Thomas

Neck Pain Photo © Gustavo Alfredo Pirron
Neck pain can be caused by injury, stress or by other health problems, including some that could have serious consequences.

One of the most common causes of neck pain, and sometimes headaches, is poor posture.

Your neck contains bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves, any of which can hurt. Neck pain also may come from regions near your neck, such as your head and shoulders.

Giving Neck Massage

1. Place yourself at your partners head, while they are lying on their back. Oil the front of the body, starting with hands on their upper chest, then move down over the breastbone and back up the sides of the body to the starting position. Place hands on the upper chest, fingers pointing toward each other and press down, gliding the hands out toward the top of the arm.

2. Cradle the head in one hand and turn it slightly toward the right. With the other hand, glide firmly out from the center of the chest to the top of the arm, back along the top of the shoulder, and up the back of the neck to the base of the skull.

3. Make small circles along the back of the neck to release tension, then continue down the side of the neck to the chest. Stroke firmly down the side of the neck and out along the top of the shoulder, stretching the neck muscles.

4. Turn the head back to the center with both hands supporting the head under the neck, and pull gently to stretch out the neck muscles.

5. Turn the head to the opposite side and repeat the sequence for the other shoulder. Return the head to the center and pull gently. Make small, circular movements up the back of the neck to the skull and then stroke up the back of the head and off.

Heat can help relax sore muscles, but it sometimes aggravates inflammation, so use it with caution. Apply heat or ice for 15 to 20 minutes, with a 40-minute rest between applications.

For pain that doesn't get better, your doctor may recommend:

  • Physical therapy. Heat, ice or similar treatments combined with an appropriate stretching and muscle strengthening program may enhance the structures that support your cervical spine. Such treatments are often all you need for neck pain.
  • Pain medications. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medicine than what you can get over-the-counter. Opioid analgesics are sometimes used briefly to treat acute neck pain. Muscle relaxants also may be prescribed.

Also see your doctor if the following signs and symptoms occur together with neck pain:

  • Severe pain from an injury. After head or neck trauma, such as whiplash or a blow to your head, see your doctor immediately. Severe pain over a bone might indicate a fracture or an injury to a ligament.
  • Shooting pain. Pain radiating to your shoulder, through your shoulder blades or down your arm, or numbness or tingling in your fingers, may indicate nerve irritation. Neck pain from nerve irritation can last from three to six months or longer. Because serious problems may occur after continued nerve irritation, see your doctor.
  • Loss of strength. Weakness in an arm or a leg, walking with a stiff leg, or shuffling your feet indicates the need for immediate evaluation.