By Dr. Vu Le
Almost everyone will experience some sort of neck or low back pain at some point in their lives. Fortunately, most episodes will resolve with time and conservative care.
In order to shorten the duration of pain, the most common regimen that I recommend includes taking anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, heat/ice, messaging, and stretching.
Pain is a result of inflammation (from muscles, discs, nerves, etc.). Therefore, taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) will reduce the inflammation, thus, the pain. These medications are normally taken as needed and should be taken with food. They should not be taken if you have a history of stomach ulcers or kidney problems.
Activity modification includes avoid being in one position for a long time (e.g–more than 30 minutes) to minimize muscle stiffness. That includes avoid sitting, standing, or laying more than 30 minutes at a time to minimize the muscles from stiffening up. To loosen the muscles, apply a warm compress for 15-20 minutes at a time. Using the car seat warmer, a hot tub or a jacuzzi can also be helpful to loosen up the muscles. Massaging and stretching are also helpful ways to minimize muscle stiffness.
If your pain has not subsided despite trying these steps, please come in to see one of our spine surgeons.