How to Treat Neck Pain in Seniors

how to treat neck pain in seniors [yestogoodness.com]


As you age, it's common to experience physical pain as the health of the bones and muscles in your body isn't what it used to be. The elderly, however, complain of neck pain more frequently along with back pain because it's most susceptible to commons strains and stresses.

According to studies, some 22 to 70 percent of the world's population will complain of neck pain at one point in their lives and at least 10 to 20 percent will constantly report of neck problems to their doctors. As much as 30 percent will develop chronic neck issues as they get older and five percent of seniors will likely be disabled because of neck pain.

The discomfort of neck pain is more prevalent among women and it normally begins to emerge at around 50 years old. Seniors who experience neck pain also have other inflammatory diseases and psychological concerns like depression or insomnia.

Common Causes of Neck Pain in Seniors

A dull aching pain that occurs in the neck might worsen when you try to turn your head or move in the slightest. Sometimes, the pain is marked with some tenderness or pinching and tingling sensation. You could also feel some dizziness or lightheadedness coupled with a mild headache, pulsation and a difficulty in swallowing.

The condition emerges due to many factors, which could be structural or non-structural. Among these are:

  • Sleeping in the wrong position
  • Prolonged bad posture 
  • Over-exerting your body, leading to muscle strain
  • Whiplash, due to sudden movements or vehicular accidents
  • Referred pain, usually from back problems
  • Chronic ailments like arthritis 
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Increasing sedentary lifestyle, leading to loss of muscle strength
  • Osteoporosis
  • Misalignment of the spine or a herniated disc
  • Change in gait
  • Anxiety and other psychological illnesses
  • Thyroid problems, especially in women
  • As a side effect of your maintenance medication 
  • Constantly looking down on mobile gadgets 

Treating Neck Pain in Seniors

Despite the number and differences of causes, most neck problems are easily fixed with the help of a professional, or through conservative methods and proper self-care.

1. Hot or Cold Compress

Using hot or cold compress for 20 minutes has been proven effective in getting rid of neck pain. At least 51 percent of patients in a study experienced pain alleviation using a hot compress, while 62 percent of patients felt better after a cold compress. Some 80 percent of the patients also said they will use the compress method if they experience neck pain again.

But which method works better -- hot or cold? Using hot compress is more effective in treating chronic pain, such as arthritis, while cold compress works best with acute injuries that have clear signs of inflammation or strains. Whether you use hot or cold compress, though, it’s important to take care not to keep it on for longer than 20 minutes to protect your skin from numbness or burns.

2. Medication

Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will provide pain relief. Some patients find over-the-counter topical liniment creams or lotions quite helpful, coupled with massage therapy, in managing muscle stiffness and soreness. In some cases, doctors could prescribe muscle relaxants.

Pain medicines must be taken at intervals of at least four hours. Refer to your doctor immediately if the neck pain cripples your movements as you might need something more powerful. If the pain is persistent, however, you might have to refer to a specialist, such as a physiotherapist.

3. Wear a Neck Brace

Wearing a neck brace before going to bed can help relieve the pain caused by sleeping in an awkward position. It also eases the tension in the neck muscles, reduces the pressure in the cervical spine, and improves your posture. A neck brace is also often prescribed to stabilize your neck if you've suffered from a whiplash injury. You can choose the best neck brace for your specific needs using this guide.

4. Surgery

It's uncommon to get surgery for neck pain, but it's still possible if the patient suffers from serious pain brought about by complications of herniated discs and spinal cord compression. Doctors might also recommend surgery as a last resort if conservative methods fail but the senior is still otherwise in great health.

Avoiding Neck Pain in Seniors

To boost joint and muscle strength, seniors need to do regular exercises like yoga or some simple neck and head movements at home. Physical activities will also slow down the degeneration of the spine that the neck supports.

  • Seniors also have to be aware of proper posture when they stand, sit down or lie in bed.  
  • Avoid napping in chairs.
  • Avoid reading in bed and using pillows that are stacked up too high.
  • Take breaks when you’re knitting or reading on the couch.
  • You might want to consider sitting down if you’re doing chores and have to look down, such as when washing dishes because the sink is too low. 
  • Keep your head in an upright but relaxed position when standing or sitting with your back straight on the chair. 
  • Tap someone’s help to rearrange your things at home or in your work environment in the craft room or garden. You’ll need your things on the eye-level or within reach, so you don’t have to crane your neck all the time. 
  • Anytime you feel some tension in your neck, stop what you’re doing and take a break. Don’t hesitate to refer to a doctor if the pain persists for days. 
One of the things to consider when taking care of seniors is their diminished pain perception. Some elderly also suffer from dementia, making it difficult for them to express themselves. If you're in doubt, you may also consult a geriatrician.


Show Credits/References

https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2017.0302
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20536800
https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/sports-wrap/ice-or-heat
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11940-001-0003-z
Image source: Injurymap


About the Author

Joe Fleming | Contact
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. 

Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces...the goal is to help others “rebel against age”.

Post a Comment

Designed by OddThemes | Distributed By Gooyaabi Templates