Should I use heat or cold for neck and shoulder pain?

Always bear in mind that neck and shoulder pain are considered as common conditions. The pain that develops in the neck can be triggered by poor posture or being involved in a vehicular accident. In most cases, neck pain can occur due to muscle strain in which the individual has poor posture while watching TV, poor computer ergonomics, turning of the neck abruptly or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.

As for shoulder pain, it can be due to an injury in the shoulder joints, muscles or ligaments. Oftentimes, the neck and shoulder pain are connected. If you want to be prepared to handle cases that involve neck and shoulder pain, all you have to do is to register for first aid training today.

Anatomy of the neck and shoulder

Neck and shoulder pain
In most cases, neck pain can occur due to muscle strain in which the individual has poor posture while watching TV, poor computer ergonomics, turning of the neck abruptly or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.

It is important to note that the neck is one of the complex structures in the body. There are many muscles in the region that are too small to palpate but have specialized functions in order to support the head along with several nerve fibers.

The shoulder is also a complex region in the body and prone to injuries that can lead to pain in various joints, muscles and ligaments linked to the movement of the arm.

What are the causes of neck and shoulder pain?

Most cases of neck pain are linked to the joints situated between the vertebrae known as the facet joints. Take note that these joints can become swollen and irritated which disrupts the nerves in the surrounding area. These irritated nerves can lead to muscle pain. Just like with the joints in the neck, the shoulder joint can end up damaged, thus causing muscle pain.

Heat therapy of neck and shoulder pain

Heat is basically used in order to relax the sore muscles. Always remember that heat works by bringing blood into the muscle and allowing the affected tissues to heal. It is recommended to apply heat after using cold therapy for the initial 48-72 hours. This is done by applying a moist heating pad or allowing the individual to take a hot shower. Just remember that the individual should not sleep with the heating pad since applying heat for an extended period can increase the pain and inflammation. Applying heat for 10-15 minutes is enough with an hour in between.

Cold therapy for neck and shoulder pain

Ice is typically utilized for treating acute injuries. Remember that ice works by reducing the inflammation, thus minimizing the pain in the neck or shoulder area. When cold therapy is used, it is recommended for the initial 48-72 hours to help reduce the inflammation. Make sure that you will use ice for 10-20 minutes and then remove for at least an hour before applying it again.

Other home treatments

Aside from ice and heat, it is also vital that the individual will avoid engaging in any painful activities. After resting for the first 1-2 days, the individual can start low-intensity range of motion exercises. He/she can perform mild up-and-down, side-to-side as well as ear-to-ear movements to gently stretch out the neck muscles.

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