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Worst Or Better For Your Neck Pain

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in March of 2023. For the original video go to

Mike: Do you suffer from neck pain and you're wondering how you can alleviate it?

Brad: We're going to explore five commonly asked questions that we've heard over the years of our therapy experience and adventures, and we're going to say, are they better or are they worse? It's going to be helpful.

Mike: We're going on an adventure. Is it better or worse for your neck pain to not move your neck at all?

Brad: Well, and that's a good question. When you do have neck pain, you want to actually move it, and get some motion in it so that it does not stiffen up and get worse. There are a few exceptions and that would be if you've had a fracture in your neck, trauma, or an accident, things like that, that kind of thing, it's very more obvious, but motion is lotion, as long as you're not getting sharp pain.

Mike: Question two, is it better or worse to use armrests on a chair when you're experiencing neck pain?

Brad: It's very important to use armrests, as long as you do it properly. What happens is if you use the armrest you're taking the weight of the arm, which pulls down on the shoulder and that pulls the muscles, the levator scapula, and the upper traps and into the neck. That can be the source of your neck pain. So if you have armrests, allow your arms to rest on them. If your armrests are too low or if you are a tall person and there's a gap there, you can simply take a pillow, fold it in half and put it at your sides. This is one of those things that doesn't cost anything. You're going to find out how much more comfortable that is, elevating, resting the weight of your arms, taking it off that neck.

Mike: If your neck pain is traveling down into your arm but it actually stops hurting in your neck, does that mean it's getting better or worse?

Brad: Excellent question. If the pain is going down the arm, it feels better up in the neck but worse down in the arm, that's actually a bad sign. We'd rather have it go the other way and have the arm feeling better, even if it's a little more painful up in the neck, that's a good thing. This pain we're talking about sometimes can be numbness, tingling, pain, or burning sensations. It's typically from a pinched nerve.

Mike: If you have neck pain, is it better or worse to rest one hand on top of your head to help alleviate that pain?

Brad: Believe it or not, this is not a trick question, and this is something that both Bob and I have wondered about. But actually, it's understandably, biomechanically, you put your hand on your head and rest it. It takes the pressure off the muscles that go into your neck, and it can actually relieve it, and you have nothing to lose by doing it. Do this and find out, the pain will go away very quickly more times than not.

Mike: Is it better or worse to sleep on your side using a thin pillow if you're experiencing neck pain?

Brad: All right, well let's explain it as you look. We want to keep the spine in a neutral position. So if you can imagine Mike's spine coming up to his head, and neutral would be straight. Now if you look at Mike's head, it's angled down a little bit. It looks like a little bit, but that can cause problems over time while you sleep. So in this case, all you need to do is one of two things. Take another pillow, and put it under your head to get things lined up. If you don't have another pillow, you may be able to take the pillow that you have, fold it up, and there you go. How are you doing, Mike?

Mike: Better.

Brad: Good.

Mike: I'm going to take a nap.

Brad: So keep things in alignment. All right, so you had five different scenarios, and now you know what's better and what’s worse to help relieve some of your neck pain.

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