Don’t put up with Neck Pain… You’ve Got Options!

Don’t put up with Neck Pain… You’ve Got Options!

Got chronic neck pain, stiff and tight shoulders? Here are some handy hints to get on top of your pain without medication.


” Tong Ze Bu Tong, Bu Tong Ze Tong”

If there is pain, there is no free flow; if there is free flow there is no pain

Chinese Medicine proverb


Neck retraction exercises

Neck Retraction is one of the best no equipment exercises to correct poor neck posture. Neck retractions is one of the first exercises our practitioners prescribe a patient. It is an essential part of home treatment for neck pain. This neck exercise should be done 15-20 times per session for 3 sessions a day, best done in the morning, at noon and in the evening. This teaches you to correctly position your head in relation to the rest of your body. To perform correctly, the head should be retracted (pulled back) as far as possible. 

How to do neck retraction – 

Sit comfortably and correctly you should hold your head just short of the extreme retracted position. To find the correct neck position, retract you head all the way and then relax and release about ten precent forward. It can take about a week to feel the right position for you, so don’t get too frustrated and give up.

You may experience some new pains at first and these should go away in a few days, provided you continue postural correction. Many patients find that after a while the position actually eases their neck pain and headaches immediately. This is a good sign, however, you should continue the regimen and not use it just for temporary pain relief especially if you love spending too much time on your smart phone.


Heat packs

For centuries, heat has been used as a simple yet effective way to manage your pain and joint or muscular stiffness. Deep and penetrating heat not only relieves your pain but also enhances your recovery process.  By applying a heat pack to your sore neck and upper back muscles, the heat stimulates your sensory receptors to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, resulting in an instant and effective pain relief.

If you’ve been suffering with either stiffness or pain that feels better when you apply heat, have a warm relaxing bath or a hot shower. A microwave heat pack could be the best investment you’ll make this year, apply daily.

But How Does Heat Actually Help You?

  • By increasing tissue elasticity, heat reduces your resting muscle tension and helps to relax those nasty painful knots.
  • Your pain is quickly eased via the sedation and soothing of any pain-irritated nerve endings.
  • The deep heating effect increases your blood flow to the painful area, bringing more nutrients to the injured area while flushing out the injured debris. This helps to quicken your healing rate.
  • The deep heat also promotes a speedier healing rate by stimulating your natural metabolic rate. In other words, there is more energy available to fix the injury quicker.


Acupuncture & Cupping

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for neck and shoulder pain. Acupuncture can, not only help relax the muscles and switch off pain but it can also help reduce any underlying inflammation. Acupuncture is often combined with cupping therapy to increase blood flow in the muscle and tissue areas of the upper back and back region. To find out more about Acupuncture Click Here


Chinese herbs

Not a fan of needles, you can still use Chinese Medicine for your pain by taking Chinese herbs. Chinese herbs can have an anti-inflammatory and relaxant effect on muscles. Chinese hebrs are not addictive like painkillers and side effect free. Each formula is individually prescribed on a case by case basis however often contain the following herbs – 

Jiang Huang (turmeric) – Treats chronic inflammation, including traumatic injury. In Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) terms promotes movement of Qi, dispels blood stasis, and alleviates pain especially in the upper shoulders. 

Gui Zhi (cinnamon) – Has a circulatory effect. In TCM Gui Zhi unblocks the channels and sinews, treats painful obstruction. Gui Zhi is often combined with Chuan Xiong (Szechuan lovage root) to facilitate joint movement and relieve discomfort. Chuan Xiong is great for headaches. 

Ge Gen (kudzu root) – In TCM terms Ge Gen release muscles and is great for headaches, stiff upper back and back. 

Yan Hu Suo (corydalis rhizome)- Invigorates the blood, promotes the movement of Qi and allieviates pain. It can be used for any type of pain including chest, abdomen or limbs. Combined with Chuan Xiong can be used for headache. 


Liniments & creams

Often overlooked is a good anti-inflammatory cream, or a simple magnesium cream for tight muscles. Rubbing a linament or cream between sessions can aid in giving you some temporary relief, and even keep you from taking anti-inflammatory medications. 

For general stiffness I recommend the BioCeuticals Ultra Muscles Cream, as it tends to be a less itchy and irritating compared with magnesium sprays and oils.

For more inflammation and discomfort I recommend Zheng Gu Shui which increases blood flow in to the muscles and eases inflammation.


Massage & Myotherapy 

A regular neck massage can prove beneficial in reducing stiffness, pain and limit the mobility. Myotherapy often combines massage tools with assessment, examination of the area, exercise prescriptions, as well as techniques including: Soft Tissue & Deep Tissue Massage, Myofascial Release Therapy, Cupping, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Energy & Active Release as well as Muscle Stretching. These treatment methods are often specifically tailored to the patient and their needs. To find out more about Massage and Myotherapy Click Here



Whether you slept in a funky position last night or you have been sitting and staring tensely at your computer for hours on end, neck pain happens. To help loosen and relax the muscles after a hot shower or heat pack application, so some stretches. 


Chiropractic care 

Chiropractors address these underlying structural causes, offering an all-natural neck pain treatment. That works. By adding the precise amount of energy to your spine, at just the right time and place, spinal bones are gently coaxed back into a more normal position. Adjustments feel great. If they didn’t, patient wouldn’t return for the multiple visits necessary to produce lasting spinal changes. To find out more about Chiropractic Click Here



Improper sleeping positions and work postures can be the cause of neck pain. If you work in an office, make sure to set up your monitors on a stand and bring them to an eye-to-eye level. This helps in keeping your position straight while working, maybe consider investing in standing work desk.

If this is not an options get up a move every hour. Set a reminder on your computer or phone. Get up drink a cup or water, or make a cup of tea. While waiting for kettle to boil is a great time to add some stretches or chin tucks.


Good pillow 

If you wake up in the morning with a stiff and painful neck, it is likely that there is a problem with your pillow and/or sleeping position. The main function of a pillow is to support the head and neck. It should keep alignment between the head, neck and shoulders without tilting or lifting the head.

The best sleeping positions are on your back or side. Sleeping on your stomach can place stress on the muscles, ligaments and joints of the neck and since most of us spend about a third of our lives sleeping, poor neck support from an inadequate pillow can have drastic effects on our necks. The height requirement of a pillow changes as you move from your back to your side. In the side sleeping position, the pillow should be higher due to the width of the shoulders. Unfortunately, most pillows do not perform this function.

Good news is that there are pillows available which can provide a nice solution. At Balanced Life Health Care we recommend the Complete Sleeprrr Plus – Adjustable Memory, which is a contoured memory foam pillow, which has a high and shorter end for side and back sleeping respectively. It also is fully adjustable for a smaller or bigger frame. 

There are many types of pillows available, and it’s a solid investment. Next time you are in the clinic we recommend laying on our samples to see if these could be a good fit for you, remember everyone is different so try before you buy so maybe skip the online shopping this time. 

Lastly a good cervical pillow is essential in correcting poor neck posture and as part of home treatment for neck pain. A pillow won’t cure your neck pain but its definitely going to help reduce discomfort and give you a better nights sleep. 




Dr Lauren Surridge (TCM) is the Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist and owner of Balanced Life Health Care. To find out more about Lauren click here and to make an appointment to see Lauren at her clinic in Ferntree Gully click here