The best pillow for neck and shoulder pain is firm enough to hold the head at a healthy angle but soft enough to alleviate pressure points. Most sleepers find success with either memory foam, latex, buckwheat, or feather pillow, as these materials offer the best balance of support and pressure relief. An example of such pillow is available on the following link: Memory Foam Pillow for Sleeping – Ergonomic Design with Dual-Sided Firmness for Side, Back, and Stomach Sleepers – Cervical Support Pillows for Neck & Shoulder Pain, Charcoal & Gel-Infused: Amazon.co.uk: Kitchen & Home
(1) LOFT. The loft determines the angle of your head in relation to your spine. A pillow that’s too high or too low can force your neck to bend at an unnatural angle, causing strain and discomfort over time. That’s why sleep experts recommend choosing a pillow loft that keeps your head and neck aligned with your spine.
(2) SUPPORT. In addition to being the right height under your head, a pillow should also adequately support your neck.
(3) FIRMNESS LEVEL. The pillow firmness will determine where your head comes to rest, so it’s important to give this aspect careful consideration. Pillows that are too firm may cause pressure points, for example in the ears when side sleeping. On the other hand, pillows that are too soft may sag under your head and fail to provide proper support.
(4) PRESSURE RELIEF. A good pillow provides pressure relief by taking the strain off the neck and contouring to reduce pressure points. For the best pressure relief, choose a pillow that’s the appropriate shape and size for your sleeping position, and the appropriate firmness to alleviate pressure at contact points.
(5) PRICE. When shopping for a pillow, keep in in mind that certain types of pillows will last you for years, while others may need to be replaced after a year or two as their materials wear out and lose their loft or conforming abilities.
(6) QUALITY MATERIAL. Within broad categories such as memory foam or feather pillows, the quality of the individual pillow plays a significant role in determining its longevity and comfort. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
The spine is a column of bones arranged one on top of the other. The bones are linked at the back by joints called facet joints, one on each side. The facet joints hold the bones together and stabilise the spine, while also allowing movement.
The facet joints may become painful either due to wear and tear (also called degenerative change), stress or injury, although the reason is not always clear. Pain is felt around the facet joints and in the surrounding area. For example, pain starting from the joints of the lower back will often be felt in the buttocks and upper legs.
WHEN IS DENERVATION USED?
The denervation procedure is usually considered after trying less invasive treatments, such as medication, physiotherapy, transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS).
Exercise, acupuncture, yoga/pilates and relaxation therapy may also help ease back pain. Spine surgery could be also considered in selected cases.
Denervation is usually only considered if you have responded well to local anaesthetic injections near the affected areas, and these have helped to reduce pain.
WHAT IS THE FACET JOINT RADIOFREQUENCY DENERVATION
Facet joint radiofrequency denervation is a procedure in which nerve fibres supplying the painful facet joints are selectively destroyed by heat produced by radio waves and delivered through a needle.
The treatment is usually performed after an injection of a local anaesthetic close to the affected joints has helped to reduce feeling and pain.
The denervation treatment involves placing a special needle (radiofrequency probe) near the nerve of the joint; when a radiofrequency current is passed down the probe, a very small area of heat is created that causes a break in the nerve. This procedure does not affect any other part of the body. https://www.nice.org.uk/researchrecommendation/radiofrequency-denervation-what-is-the-clinical-and-cost-effectiveness-of-radiofrequency-denervation-for-chronic-low-back-pain-in-the-long-term
(1) PHYSICAL THERAPY
A physical therapist can design an exercise plan that strengthens your neck muscles and takes the pressure off your spine. They might also apply heat or cold pads during a therapy session to either increase blood flow and range of motion (heat) or decrease blood flow and inflammation (cold). Other physical therapy treatments could include therapeutic massage, chiropractic treatment and/or neck-strengthening exercises you can do at home.
(2) TRIGGER POINT INJECTIONS
A trigger point injection is a procedure where a medication, usually a local anesthetic, is injected into the painful muscle to provide relief. The pain relief should be experienced not only in the affected muscle but in the area of referred pain as well.
(3) ANTI-INFLAMMATORY STEROIDS INJECTIONS
Patients experiencing a herniated disc, a degenerated disc, osteoarthritis or inflammation that reduces the space around the nerves can benefit from this type of treatment. The goal of the injection is to reduce inflammation and associated nerve pain – and the injection itself is given with the patient face down under local anesthetic.
(4) BOTOX INJECTIONS
Botox injections can be effective for the treatment of adults with cervical dystonia —a condition that causes the muscles in your neck to tighten or spasm without your control. It can also reduce the severity of abnormal head position and neck pain.
(5) RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION
Radiofrequency Ablation (or RFA) is a non-surgical, outpatient therapy procedure that’s used to help patients with chronic head and neck pain related to spinal arthritis. As with any non-surgical treatment, this procedure is only recommended after a thorough examination and diagnosis. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
Neck pain is pain that starts in the neck and can be associated with radiating pain down one or both of the arms. Neck pain can come from many disorders or diseases that involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, or muscles. The neck region of the spinal column, the cervical spine, consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae), which are separated from one another by inter-vertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP IF YOU HAVE NECK PAIN?
Seek medical help for neck pain if:
- It occurs after an injury or blow(s) to the head
- Stiff neck prevents from touching chin to chest
- Pain shoots down one or both arms
- There is tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands
- Neck symptoms associated with leg weakness or loss of coordination in arms or legs
- The pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication
- Pain does not improve after a week
- Fever or headache accompanies the neck pain
TESTING AND DIAGNOSING NECK PAIN
Diagnosis is made based on patient history, symptoms, a physical examination and results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. The tests may include:
- Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan)
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Selective Nerve Root Block
Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve) is a problem that results when a nerve in the neck is irritated as it leaves the spinal canal. This condition usually occurs when a nerve root is being pinched by a herniated disc or a bone spur.
Cervical radiculopathy causes symptoms that radiate out away from the neck. What this means is that although the problem is in the spine, the symptoms may be felt in the shoulder, the arm, or the hand. The symptoms will be felt in the area where the nerve irritated travels. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-spondylosis/
TREATMENT FOR CERVICAL RADICULOPATHY
Treatment can be divided into three groups:
- Conservative treatments which include medication, cervical pillow and epidural injection,
- Surgery treatment. This includes anterior cervical fusion. After this surgery, patients will probably be placed in some type of brace while healing occurs and it is unusual to wear a brace for 6 to 12 weeks while the fusion occurs and
- Physical therapy. Whether you have surgery or not, your doctor may have a physical therapist work on an exercise program developed just for you. The physical therapist will teach you ways to prevent further injury to your neck. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
Most cases of neck pain get better on their own within few weeks. Bed rest for more than a couple of days makes it harder to get going, so make sure you stay active. Gradually increase your normal activities and do the following exercises:
- (1) Neck Tilt: From the sitting position, tilt your head down so your chin touches your chest, if you are able to. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat. Do this five times.
- (2) Side-to-Side Neck Tilt. From the starting position, tilt you neck toward one shoulder, leading with your ear. Hold for 5 seconds and then return to the starting position. Do this five times on each side.
- (3) Neck Turn. Look straight ahead, then turn your head to one side, keeping your chin at the same level. Do not over strain. Do this five times on each side.
- (4) Neck Stretch. Holding the rest of your body straight, push your chin forward, stretching your throat. Hold for 5 seconds. From the same starting position, push your chin backwards and hold for 5 seconds. Do the forward and backward stretch five times each.
If any of the exercises above cause severe pain or weakness in your hands or arms, stop right away and talk with your doctor. Your neck pain should ease within 2 weeks. Full recovery should take 4-6 weeks. As your neck starts feeling better, you can do more repetitions on each of the exercises above. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/flexibility-exercises/
Putting the back in a static position for long periods increase the risk of back or neck strain. The best preventative medicine for neck and back strain is movement. Take frequent breaks away from the computer screen to stretch.
(1) NECK GLIDE
Begin with a straight neck position. Move your chin forward and maintain comfort. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and increase reps over time up to 20.
(2) TOWEL PULL
Place a rolled towel around your neck in a U Shape holding both ends just below your shoulders. Move your head up and down rolling the towel up and down the neck in the process. Apply pressure as needed to give yourself a neck massage.
(3) SHOULDER SHRUGS
Start in a straight forward position. Raise both shoulders as upward as far as possible and hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and rest for 10 seconds then repeat. Repeat 10 times and increase reps over time up to 20.
(4) NECK ROTATION
Begin with a straight neck spine. Move your head to the left as far as possible while retaining comfort. Hold for 10 seconds and return to a forward-facing position. Move the head to the right and follow the same instructions.
(5) FORWARD FLEXION
Begin in a straight-ahead position. Lower your head until your chin touch your chest, IF POSSIBLE. Only move to a comfortable level when beginning. Return to starting position after 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20.
(6) NECK EXTENSIONS
Begin in starting position facing forward with a straight spine. Slowly move your head back as far as possible while remaining comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20.
(7) DEEP STRETCHES
Never stretch to a point that is not comfortable for you. Begin in a seated position facing forward. Move your head to the left and hold for 10 seconds, return to start and follow same instructions to the right. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/flexibility-exercises/