Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief: Causes | Symptoms | Yoga | TENS Therapy | Sleep Guide

Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief: Causes | Symptoms | Yoga | TENS Therapy | Sleep Guide
July 27, 2021

The neck has the incredibly important job of protecting the upper part of the spinal column. This part of the spine is called the cervical spine and it both supports the head and allows for a wide range of motion. Cervical discs lie between the bones in the neck, working to absorb shock and keep the spine safe from injury. Many more tissues are also important in neck function, including muscles, joints, nerves and more. And, like many parts of the body, these tissues are susceptible to strain, injury, degeneration and ultimately, chronic/acute pain.

If you’re one of many seeking to understand neck and shoulder pain and how to relieve it , you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about the causes and symptoms of neck and shoulder pain, and to discover tips and tricks for both managing and relieving it.

The Most Common Cause of Neck and Shoulder Pain

One of the most common causes of neck and shoulder pain is muscle strain. This happens when a muscle in the neck is stretched too far and/or too suddenly. When the neck is misaligned from the spine (too forward or too far back), the muscle becomes strained from carrying the weight of the head. Strain is often caused by poor posture, awkward sleeping positions and other instances of overuse that abnormally stretch the neck.



Other Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

In addition to muscle strain, some other common causes of neck and shoulder pain include:

- Degenerative disc disease or arthritis
- Injuries and infections
- Herniated/slipped discs
- Pinched nerves
- Bone spurs
- Bursitis or tendonitis in the shoulder

Common Neck and Shoulder Pain Symptoms

Neck and shoulder pain is generally easy to detect as it’s usually not something that can be ignored.

Oftentimes, neck pain is situated in the small muscles that run down the sides and back of the neck that meet the shoulders and upper back. However, neck pain can be felt anywhere; neck pain can even radiate to the shoulders, head and face. Some of the most common symptoms experienced by pain sufferers are:

- A dull ache
- A limited range of motion in the neck
- Sharp or shooting pain
- A numbness that extends down the arms
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Tension headaches

Age-related wear-and-tear and other health & lifestyle factors can make one more likely to experience neck pain. Fortunately, most neck pain is not a serious cause for concern, and it can usually be managed effectively from home with some small modifications and/or additions to your daily routines. See your preferred healthcare professional for diagnosis, and let them know whenever you are starting a new method of pain relief.

Continue reading to learn about how you can incorporate some of these neck and shoulder pain relief methods for effective, at-home management!

1. Stretch the Neck Muscles with Yoga

Yoga is a relaxing, holistic practice with a variety of benefits for many. For those seeking effective methods of neck and shoulder pain relief, yoga is a great at-home option.

Yoga poses offer deep stretching that differs from regular stretching, with an emphasis on elongating the spine. This can help with building flexibility, increasing joint and muscle mobility, and keeping the neck and shoulder areas loose (so as to prevent injury or pain from sudden movement).

Besides the physical benefits, yoga can be part of your journey towards healthy habit development. Check out three of our recommended poses that help stretch the neck and shoulder areas:



Step 1: Begin on all fours with your legs directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders.
Step 2: Pick up your right arm and slide it under your left until your shoulder is on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your shoulder muscles.
Step 3: Hold this pose for up to a minute, then repeat with the other arm.



Step 1: Begin seated on flat ground with your knees bent and pointed upwards.
Step 2: Cross your left leg over your right.
Step 3: Twist your upper body to the left, elongating every part of the spine.
Step 4: Turn your head to look over your shoulder.
Step 5: Hold this pose for up to a minute, then repeat on the other side.



Step 1: Begin standing upright with your fingers interlaced behind your back, arms straightened at a 90-degree angle.
Step 2: Fold your torso forward, bending the neck inwards as well.
Step 3: Hold this pose for up to a minute.



2. Try TENS Therapy for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief

Another meaningful method of neck and shoulder pain relief is an at-home device like a TENS Therapy machine.

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and it’s a popular method of pain therapy among pain sufferers and healthcare professionals alike. Here’s how it works for neck and shoulder pain relief:

TENS targets the nervous system with gentle electrical pulses that “block” pain signals from reaching the brain. It’s a natural, effective pain therapy that can be used long-term without serious side effects - making it a viable, meaningful option for neck and shoulder pain sufferers. TENS can be conducted to the nervous system through adhesive pads placed on the body, or through a device with built-in pads such as DR-HO’S Neck Pain Pro.

Interested in learning more about TENS for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief?

- The Neck Pain Pro Product Guide
- How TENS & EMS Work for Neck and Shoulder Pain



3. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief

Poor sleep quality is never a good thing for those dealing with pain of any kind. For neck and shoulder pain sufferers, you know that it can be difficult to fall asleep when you’re experiencing discomfort. Having poor quality sleep can make you more susceptible to experiencing pain, thus continuing the cycle of poor sleep and neck and shoulder pain. Break this pattern by learning how to improve your sleep hygiene! Get more comfortable and sleep deeper with these three sleep tips:

I. Upgrade Your Pillow

Your pillow could be contributing to worsening your neck and shoulder pain. Ensure your pillow is mostly flat, so as to not misalign your spine while you’re asleep. If you’re looking to upgrade, opt for either a feather or memory foam pillow that conforms to the shape of your head and neck.



II. Adjust Your Position

Unfortunately for stomach sleepers, sleeping face down is not ideal while dealing with neck and shoulder pain. We recommend changing your regular sleeping positions; sleep on your back or even on your side for the best chance at keeping your spine ergonomically aligned.



III. Start a Bedtime Routine

Help ease yourself into sleep by starting to wind down for bed earlier. Your nighttime routine can include relaxing activities such as doing yoga, drinking tea, having a bath or reading, for example. We recommend cutting down on screen time by as much time as is realistic for you in the evenings as blue light can disrupt your sleep.

Find the Right Method of Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief for You!

We hope that our recommendations and tips for finding neck and shoulder pain relief help you discover a meaningful method you can incorporate into your daily routines. Prioritize your pain management and get back to doing the things you love!