There’s a reason nuisances of all sorts are described as “a pain in the neck” — the neck is so constantly called into action, ignoring neck pain is virtually impossible. Because a stiff neck can ruin anyone’s day, remedies are crucial to restore sufferers to their normal activities.


Before embarking on any remedy, check with a doctor to make sure neck pain isn’t a symptom of some other underlying problem.

There’s a reason nuisances of all sorts are described as “a pain in the neck” — the neck is so constantly called into action, ignoring neck pain is virtually impossible. Because a stiff neck can ruin anyone’s day, remedies are crucial to restore sufferers to their normal activities.

Before embarking on any remedy, check with a doctor to make sure neck pain isn’t a symptom of some other underlying problem.

 

Home remedies

Cost

Ranges from free to moderate cost.

Neck stretches and self-massage

Neck stretches can alleviate mild to moderate neck pain. Besides being free, home remedies can be surprisingly effective. Side-to-side head tilts, side-to-side head rotations and front-to-back head tilts can bring some relief to neck pain. Once neck muscles have begun to relax after these exercises, try to self-massage the neck.

Yoga and meditation

To keep neck pain from returning, lifestyle changes might be necessary. For instance, stress often causes neck pain. Stress-relieving activities such as yoga or meditation might prevent both stress and neck pain.

Correcting posture

Correcting bad posture also might be beneficial. Keeping your shoulders back and neck straight can prevent pain and stiffness.

Changing pillows

Changing pillows to memory foam, which forms to the shape of the head and neck, also might prevent neck pain.


Massage

Cost

Prices range depending on where you are in the country. One Illinois massage therapist charges $50 to $60 for a 30-minute session.

What’s it for?

Seniors often experience neck pain after surgical procedures, which can lead to muscles tightening, said licensed massage therapist Wes Steffen, who owns Healthcare PRN Massage in Wheaton, Ill.

Neck pain can also be caused by a tendency to lean forward, he said.

“This causes the nerves in the neck to become impinged,” Steffen said.

How often?

Steffen said most patients come in to his clinic weekly for massages.

“Once massage reduces the neck pain and a normal range of function is re-established, then we do exercises to build up endurance,” he said.

Insurance

Though most insurance companies do not cover massage therapy, some are becoming more proactive and starting to cover such services, Steffen said.


Chiropractors

Cost

Varies, but Medicare and insurance may cover part of this treatment.

What’s it for?

Seniors with neck pain should consider a chiropractor “if the problem is musculoskeletal, they are tired of taking medication or they have been told to live with the pain,” said Dr. Nancy Baker, a chiropractor in Wheaton, Ill.

Typical treatments consist of ultrasound or electric stimulation, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, adjustments with an activator and tractioning, Baker said.

Physical therapists might give patients orthopedic pillows or braces, and they might teach them gentle strengthening exercises, she said.

How often?

“Typically at my clinic, patients may start with two treatments per week for a few weeks, then reduce to one per week, then every other week, then monthly or as needed,” Baker said.

Insurance

Medicare covers chiropractic adjustments, Baker said. And secondary insurance will pay their percentage of what Medicare approves.

“However, Medicare only pays for the chiropractic adjustment and none of the other therapies that might be needed,” Baker said.

 

Physical therapy

Cost

Varies, but Medicare and most health insurance plans help.

What’s it for?

A doctor should prescribe physical therapy when a patient has been treated but pain persists beyond one to two weeks.

Pain reduction might include the use of heat or ice, massage, relaxation techniques, stretches and/or ultrasound and electric stimulation.

Before beginning treatment, the physical therapist will get a thorough history to find out what caused the neck pain, how long the neck pain has lasted, what the patient’s daily routine is, etc. The physical therapist can use this information to pinpoint activities to avoid future neck pain.

How often?

Varies depending on specific conditions, treatments.

Insurance

Medicare and health insurance cover most treatments.