In Focus:
Neck & Shoulder Pain

Causes and home remedies

May 13, 2020

Causes and home remedies

May 13, 2020

Reoccurring neck and shoulder pain can build until it becomes a major problem, causing anything from tension headaches to lack of mobility. However, some soreness and muscular tension in the neck and upper back area is surprisingly common. Often this issue can be traced back to how we carry ourselves when standing, moving or sitting, and can fortunately be alleviated with some simple exercises and tricks.


Beginning at the base of the skull and extending downwards is a series of cervical vertebral segments named C1 to C7, which are stabilized by hard-working muscles and ligaments. This complex arrangement is what supports your heavy head and allows for the free range of movement you typically take for granted. However, when things become misaligned in this network, we experience pain and stiffness and a limit to our movements and capabilities.


Your head weighs around 12 pounds and is supported by a series of muscles and ligaments day in and day out. The neck and shoulders are also intricately linked through many nerve pathways, so the pain in one area may overlap or mask pain in the other. There are many causes for neck and shoulder pain, but we can separate them into a few categories:


  • Muscle tension and strain

Usually due to poor posture, too many hours working at a desk, poor sleeping positions – really anything in which you are holding your head in a non-neutral position for too long. Stress and anxiety can also cause muscles to tighten and begin to ache over time.

  • Injury

The neck is tough but sensitive – falls, accidents, improperly lifting something heavy and even jerky movements such as overextending yourself when exercising can twist it beyond its natural range of motion.

  • Health issues and degeneration

Your vertebrae and discs wear down with age, which should give you even more incentive to take care of your spine. Being overweight can add even more pressure on the muscles and contribute to neck and shoulder pain. Arthritis, herniated cervical discs, fractures and general inflammation can also be the reason behind chronic neck and shoulder pain.


Luckily, there are many methods to help take care of your aches and pains. Specifically, we look at remedies for muscle strain and tension:


  • Rest

Take it easy and avoid sudden movements that exacerbate the pain.

  • Apply Heat or Ice

Use an ice pack or heated compress to help decrease the pain and prevent muscle spasms. Ice works better if there is inflammation and heat is great for soothing and releasing tension.

  • Posture Improvements

Try not to hunch when you are working on your computer – place the monitor at eye level and your keyboard within easy reach. Take frequent breaks to stretch out your neck and shoulders and keep the muscles loose. Begin to frequently check-in when you are standing and sitting to make sure you are carrying yourself properly



Keep your muscles strong and maintain their range of movement. Take time to gently stretch your neck every day – research neck stretches and rolls for some visual guides.


  • Bed Check

Make sure you have a mattress and pillow that keep the head and body aligned while sleeping.

  • Massage it out

Ask your partner or flatmate to help you out. Massage is a great complementary therapy that helps to release muscular tension and soothe inflammation.

Word to the wise – this article focuses on non-emergency related pain. If you have had an accident or are experiencing unusual or sharp shooting pains, please consult a professional.

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