Neck pain is relatively common and usually avoidable. Changing your lifestyle and habits can help to prevent neck pain and a stiff neck. If you’re currently experiencing neck pain, you have a few options for reducing the severity of that pain and relieving muscle tightness.

Both ice and heat are viable options for dealing with pain. Which one to choose depends on the kind of pain you’re experiencing. It’s also worth noting that they may not provide the most immediate or convenient relief. You have several options, and understanding what you can do will empower you to find the relief you need.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Accidents and injuries to the spine or ligaments of the neck are a major cause of neck pain. If you were seriously injured or involved in an accident, like car accidents or whiplash, and are experiencing neck pain and/or low back pain as a result, you need to speak to your doctor about your neck pain.

One of the most common causes of neck pain is strain. Muscle strain can occur as a result of poor posture or overuse during exercise. Some people with a larger bust experience neck pain and muscle spasms as a result of the additional weight on their chest, which naturally pulls their shoulders forward and causes strain of the upper body.

People who work desk jobs often experience neck pain and muscle soreness as a result of straining over their computers or their paperwork. Most desks require people to lean or look down to see their screens or documents. Elevating the desk or using a computer stand can sometimes help to mitigate the issue.

Is a Heating Pad Good for Neck Pain?

Heat causes tissues and blood vessels to expand, inviting oxygen rich blood into stiff muscles and improving their range of motion. If your neck is stiff and motion causes a painful pulling sensation, you can use heat, like a heating pad, on a low to medium setting for about 20 minutes on the muscle.

After you lift the heating pad off of your neck, gently massage the sore muscle and slowly stretch it. You may feel as though the stiffness and muscle tension in the painful area has loosened up, increasing its range of motion. It’s important to maintain good posture and prevent straining or tilting your neck to avoid exacerbating your discomfort.

It’s important not to leave your heating pad on for longer than 20 minutes. You shouldn’t sleep with a heating pad on your neck. Extended use of a heating pad or very frequent use of a heating pad can cause second degree burns to the skin. It helps to use heat therapy with an integrated timer that will automatically turn the pad off after 20 minutes of use. Taking a hot shower or hot baths may also help ease the pain with moist heat.

Does Ice Work for Neck Pain?

Ice and cold therapy makes things condense. The throbbing muscle fibers and blood vessels in your neck will contract when you apply ice to the injury, causing the throbbing sensation to stop by reducing swelling and inflammation to the area. Ice also acts as a topical anesthetic. It leads to numbness and disrupts pain signals.

If your neck muscles are throbbing or visibly swollen, apply ice for 20 minutes. Make sure to use some kind of a barrier between the ice and your skin. Wrapping cold packs in a small towel will do the trick. Make sure to leave the ice off for several hours before reapplying it to the area. Your body needs time to come back to room temperature and maintain homeostasis, and cold exposure can significantly damage the skin.

When to Use Ice or Heat for Neck Pain

Once you understand the sensation you’re feeling, it’s easy to establish a treatment goal. When you know what it feels like, you’ll know whether ice or heat will provide the right type of relief. You can use ice or heat any time when you have 20 minutes to relax. It may be unwise to apply ice or heat when you’re tired or laying in bed. You don’t want to run the risk of accidentally falling asleep with an ice pack or a heating pad in place.

What is the Fastest Way to Relieve Neck Pain?

Massage and gentle stretching before treating the source of the pain will help to promote gentle relief. Massage stimulates blood flow and lymphatic flow, encouraging swelling to dissipate and promoting your body’s ability to use oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to heal the source of the ache naturally.

Although ice and heat are both capable of providing temporary relief, it may take a few minutes. It may fade away minutes after you’ve removed the heating pad or the ice pack. It’s important to take breaks to avoid freezing or burning your skin, making continuous relief and healing difficult to achieve with either method.

Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or NSAIDs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also help provide temporary relief, but there is another solution.

Topical products are a much simpler solution to relieve muscular aches or joint stiffness. When you massage a topical product into the affected area, it gets to work within minutes and may continue to work for hours. You can safely apply topical pain relief products several times a day to experience a steady stream of relief for long periods of time.

How Do Topical Relief Products Work for Pain?

Topical relief products use ingredients that penetrate the surface layer of the skin and interact with the skin’s receptors to counteract the sensation of discomfort.

Menthol is a common ingredient in home remedies and topical relief products due to its unique ability to activate the same receptors in the skin that process the sensation of cold temperatures. The body reacts as though the area is being treated with ice, even though the temperature of the skin remains the same.

Menthol works as a counterirritant. The skin’s receptors are relaying irritation and pain to your sensory system, and menthol outweighs and blocks those signals. It replaces them with a cooling sensation that most people with muscle and joint aches find to be highly relieving and significantly more convenient than heating pads or ice packs.

Hempvana Has a Simple Solution for Your Nagging Aches

Hempvana Cold As Ice Roll On Pain Relief Gel provides rapid relief in the simplest way possible. Simply roll the menthol-infused cooling relief gel onto the muscles of your neck. It’s a mess-free, easy, and fast solution to ease your aches and discomfort. After you’ve rolled the gel on, use your fingertips to massage the gel into your skin and promote absorption.

Unlike ice packs or heating pads, Cold As Ice can be used anywhere at any time. You can keep it in your gym bag, on your desk, or on your nightstand. As soon as you feel the ache beginning, roll it on. You don’t need to time it or alternate it to find relief. You barely even need to think about it.

If you’re still interested in using ice or heat, you can apply the roll on during your “off” time. You may experience relief so significant that you don’t feel the need to take the heating pad back out of the closet or grab the ice pack back from the freezer.