Do you feel like your neck and shoulders are always tense, leaving you with dull aches and pains throughout the day? When the shoulders are tight, it can have a domino effect that impacts your upper body: back, arms, head, and more.
Eventually, chronic pain can take a toll and limit your activities throughout the day. When the shoulders feel tight, even the smallest actions can be challenging to manage.
Common Causes of Tight Shoulders
Understanding the root cause for your tight muscles is an essential step to helping you find relief. When you know why the muscles are tightening up, then you can make a few changes to your daily habits to prevent these issues in the future.
Neck and shoulder tension often occur for several reasons:
- Stress: Ongoing stress takes a toll on the whole body – and especially the muscles. Even if you don’t realize that you feel stressed, your muscles hold tension because you are in “fight or flight.” Stress can have a negative impact on overall health and wellness over time, resulting in chronic pain, disease, and other physical problems.
- Posture: The way you are sitting and holding your body throughout the day can cause your shoulders and neck to tighten up. For example, if you are sitting at the computer with poor posture, then it causes your shoulders to hunch over and puts strain on the neck and back. Sleeping postures can also take a toll and cause your muscles to tighten up.
- Injuries: Even if you have already recovered from old injuries, there can be long-lasting effects over the years. When a part of the spine has been injured, you may experience flare-ups at different points in your life.
- Overuse: Also consider the pressure you are putting on your shoulders and new due to overuse. Twisting or sudden movements can cause strain and stress, resulting in problems and pain.
How to Relieve a Tight Neck and Shoulders
If the pain is disrupting your day, it’s crucial to have a few strategies to reduce the pain and alleviate your discomfort. Do you have go-to methods for caring for stiff muscles? Here are a few things that you can do at home:
- Rest: Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of resting injured muscles. Overuse or a slight injury needs a day or two to help the muscles relax and avoid muscle spasms. Pause the activities that are straining your neck so you can give it time for the inflammation to go down. But don’t rest too long – inactivity results in weakened muscles, which can lead to bigger issues again in the future.
- Stretching: A little bit of stretching is a great way to loosen the muscles, but you need to make sure that the movements are comfortable and tolerable. Listen to your body, so you don’t overwork the tender areas. You can find stretches online, but the best strategy is to consult with a physical therapist or pain specialist for personalized recommendations.
- Exercise: Even though strengthening exercises won’t provide immediate relief, it’s essential to consider how you are strengthening your muscles to reduce pain in the future. Work with a physical therapist to find the ideal exercises for your current fitness level and abilities. Low impact is best when you are recovering after an injury.
- Temperature Therapy: Reduce local inflammation by using cold and hot therapy in that area. In the first day or two after straining or injuring the neck, applying ice is helpful. This technique reduces inflammation and helps you manage a painful flare-up. Then, heat is beneficial to speed up recovery by boosting blood flow in that area. Try using ice and heat to see which one you prefer. Or you can alternate between ice and heat. Just make sure to use moderate temperatures and a fabric layer of protection to avoid damaging the skin.
- Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are helpful to alleviating immediate pain. These pain relievers are often the first line of defense when pain sets in. Always follow the dosage instructions on the package. It’s best to talk to your doctor before using any type of medication.
- Improve Your Posture: Evaluate your daily activities to find ways to improve your posture. Creating good habits in the way you are working, sleeping, and lifting heavy items is essential to keep your spine aligned. As a result, your daily activities can minimize the pressure on the shoulders and neck, helping to reduce your pain.
- Schedule a Massage: Regular massages aren’t only about self-care and relaxation. An experienced massage therapist is a valuable resource to reduce your pain and keep your muscles in good condition.
These tips help by protecting your cervical spine, so you feel good every day. It’s vital to be proactive with your posture, so you have a healthy spine for life.
When to Talk to a Pain Management Specialist
When the pain is persisting and getting in the way of your daily life, then it’s time to talk to a pain management doctor for help. You don’t need to continue living with debilitating pain. We offer a variety of treatment options to address your immediate needs and also reduce the risk of complications in the future.
Our team offers a personalized plan for each patient. First, we take the time to understand the underlying factors that are contributing to your pain, then create a treatment plan that reduces inflammation. If you are unable to get results through traditional medical care, then it’s time to talk to us about possible treatment options.
Not only can we help with neck and shoulder pain, but our pain management specialists also assist patients with other types of back pain and chronic pain. For more information, reach out to Texas Partners Healthcare Group to schedule a consultation, get a diagnosis, and design an optimal treatment plan to help you enjoy a thriving life.