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Neck Pain: Hot or Cold?

By Sara Butler

Stiff necks happen. At some point, almost every person will wake up in the morning with a stiff neck, making it difficult to perform daily tasks and limiting the range of motion. When neck pain strikes, many people will do just about anything in order to find relief. Luckily, there are several safe and effective ways to deal with neck pain, yet many people are unsure if heat or ice should be the first line of defense. Here’s a breakdown of whether heat or ice is right for your neck pain, according to the chiropractors at The Joint!

Heat or Ice?

Should you use heat or ice for neck pain? The answer is both. The only caveat is that both should not be used at the same time. Chiropractors generally recommend that ice be used on a stiff, painful neck for the first 24 to 48 hours. This is because, when an injury is first sustained, the soft tissues in the neck are inflamed. Applying ice helps reduce inflammation and control pain naturally. When heat is applied, it can cause inflammation to worsen. Giving inflammation a chance to calm down for a day or two before applying heat will be the best course of action.

Applying heat after the initial period of swelling and inflammation can work to help loosen tense muscles and reduce stiffness in the neck. It will help to improve range of motion, too.

Always Use in Moderation

No matter if ice or heat is being used, it’s important to remember both should be used in moderation. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re not using it too much:

  • Apply ice or heat for only 20 minutes at a time
  • Give the affected area at least a 40-minute break before applying more
  • Protect your skin from the source by placing a towel between your skin and the heat or ice

Neck pain can be difficult and uncomfortable to deal with, but ice and heat can almost always help. When you wake up with a stiff neck, regardless of the reason behind it, you should go to see a chiropractor at The Joint. A consultation with a chiropractor can help determine the root of the problem, not merely address the pain. This course of action will ensure you’re treating the actual problem instead of just covering up symptoms.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor in San Diego at The Joint Chiropractic.

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