How to relieve neck pain from covid?
December 31, 2023 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I have been having neck pain likely from covid. The pain was unbearable at times. Now it is much milder but, for reasons, having this pain at all is causing me a lot of stress. What can I do to relieve this pain?

It is worst in the morning, presumably from sleeping. I ordered an expensive neck pain relief window that I will use for the first time tonight. Pain killers don't really help. Muscle relaxants help a little but they make me very nauseated and dizzy. The pain is likely also tension related. I noticed just now that my whole body and shoulders were clenched as i was typing for example.

All ideas welcome, but what I'm imagining answers might be are stretches, sleeping positions, exercises, topical application (heat? cold? creams?) or ideas like that.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The book "7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life: How to Rapidly Relieve Back and Neck Pain" has the exercises that helped me.
posted by flimflam at 5:11 PM on December 31, 2023 [3 favorites]

I have one of those shiatsu pillows and it can help relax neck muscles a lot.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:29 PM on December 31, 2023

I like Deep Freeze spray (also exists as a gel) for my neck pain.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:22 PM on December 31, 2023

Best answer: Extremely hot showers or compresses on the neck, face, upper back and jaw may help. Check if you are clenching your teeth or grinding - the pain can start there and spread to your neck.

I find neck and jaw stretches and exercises help a lot to get the muscles in those areas to relax completely.

Is it possible you were cold while sleeping and clenched up tight in an effort to get warm?

Check if you have swollen glands - if the pain is happening during a Covid infection that could be the underlying reason for your pain also.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:38 PM on December 31, 2023

Response by poster: Yes, neck pillow, sorry. No pain before covid. It was so bad a couple of days ago that I went to the ER because I was frantic with pain and was looked at quite thoroughly so any serious-issue-causes are ruled out. I had also wondered if I might be clenching or teeth grinding, but I'm not sure what to do about it if that's it. The pain definitely develops overnight and is at it's worst in the morning. I was definitely cold while sleeping the fever night.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:53 PM on December 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are electric heating pads that are shaped for neck and shoulders, or larger ones for neck, shoulders and back. I alternate between one of those and an ice pack on the back of my neck, in quick succession. Ice first, for me, because most of my pain is caused by pinched nerves in my neck, so the ice helps that, then I go to heat to relax the muscles that have been tensing against the nerve pain. Your mileage will vary.

On really bad days, some voltaren cream (Diclofenac) rubbed on the skin can help too. (Last resort for me because I don't like the smell much, but the scent doesn't bother most folks)
posted by Vigilant at 10:29 PM on December 31, 2023

Best answer: Oh hey, I get this exactly like you describe and I also figured it's covid-associated.

(If it's from clenching or grinding, there are custom mouthpieces you can wear. Every dentist I ever visit tries to upsell me because apparently teeth can exert a LOT of pressure (but they aren't covered by insurance and they bother the insides of my cheeks).)

But oh my gosh for me this is the most easily resolvable of my neck problems! Once it got past the scary bad stage this summer (which I didn't go to the ER for), I figured out I can basically make it go away with magnesium and heat. You can buy magnesium as a white powder at the grocery store, or here are some food sources. I think you can also buy it as a topical product. My partner can't get near me for migraines but I think this she can give me gentle massages for, too. Also progressive relaxation. I think I might have also tried tiger balm, but I forget.

Magnesium and heat. I remember when it was really bad, falling asleep on the hot pad and woke up to turn it off and was like WOW what a difference! Magnesium, same thing.
posted by aniola at 11:36 PM on December 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm sensitive to ibuprofen and it's bad for the gut, so I use turmeric (which is less bad for the gut) which serves the same purpose. But turmeric was not the solution to this particular problem for me, so I suspect Diclofenac, which is another NSAID pain killer, might not help.
posted by aniola at 11:39 PM on December 31, 2023

If you've taken yourself to the ER then I assume you have insurance.

Get a few appointments with a physical therapist. They will fix you.
posted by phunniemee at 5:57 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]

Seconding PT.
posted by bluesky78987 at 6:34 AM on January 1

There are electric heating pads that are shaped for neck and shoulders

Seconding these and PT.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:12 AM on January 1

I had some neck issues and I saw a massage therapist who specialized in neck and TMJ rehab and it was really helpful. I went to physio as well, any physio has been very helpful for me in the past, but for this issue, because it was tension related, I found the massage really helped me the most.
posted by ice-cream forever at 7:21 AM on January 1

Seconding professional massage. They will likely be able to release a lot of tension, and a good therapist will be able to identify ways to reduce the problem.
posted by metasarah at 8:19 AM on January 1

Nthing heating pad, massage, and PT.

In my case I had really bad leg cramps/spasms with covid and for a while after the active infection was over. When it was at its worst, sleeping with a heating pad was the only thing that helped. Sometimes I found the heating pad too warm, even on the lowest setting (it varied depending on the day/night), so I would wrap a dish towel around the heating pad when that happened. I also took magnesium, but the heating pad was the most help when things were acute.
posted by gudrun at 9:25 AM on January 1

Best answer: I use this [Amazon] electric heating pad. A hot shower from my high-flow showerhead is the best, though. Stretch after heating. Acetaminophen. Caffeine.

{A friend once said about her neck pain: "When you hurt your arm you put it in a sling. When you hurt your leg you use crutches. But you have to hold your head up all day."}
posted by neuron at 2:02 PM on January 1

Best answer: (If you've taken yourself to the ER then I assume you have insurance. --> This assumption is unfounded for Canadians.)
posted by heatherlogan at 4:27 PM on January 1

You really need a physical therapist, but I also get that it's Jan 2 and getting in to see one right now is at best probably weeks away. You might review several of these videos from Ask Dr Jo to see which one of them seems to correspond best to the kind of pain you are having.

You may have to order it, but if you have any way to get your hands on Magnesium "oil" spray (it's not really an oil, but it's the technical term for magnesium in liquid) today that would be even better. Use it two ways: spray it directly on your neck and rub it in (or onto your hand and rub it in), and also spray it onto the bottoms of your feet and let them hang out absorbing for as long as you can.

Additionally, if it's not contraindicated by a health condition, get a potassium supplement. That and magnesium are both related to muscle spasms if you're deficient.

If you are in the US, I constantly evangelize about Milk Barn Farm's topical CBD products (pretty sure the proprietor is one of Mefi's Own, he's friends-of-friends and I trust the product is what it says it is). You will find cheaper crappier stuff in drugstores, but the stuff has gotten me through two extensive knee injuries and a million little aches and pains and cuts and bruises.

I don't know what kind of neck pain pillow you're trying, but I am a side sleeper who finally found peace with a pillow rig made of one firm regular pillow, one Pillowcube for side sleepers with a positionable travel neck pillow slipped inside the pillowcase (instead of an old-school cervical bolster). Additionally, I use the greatest body pillow of all time to keep my shoulders and hips in line.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:48 AM on January 2

Response by poster: Thanks it's a lot better. This is the pillow I got. I've been taking muscle relaxant, advil, and tylenol at bedtime to try to get ahead of it and that seems to be working pretty well. My whole neck area and scalp and back of my head are still quite sensitive to touch and I can't comb my hair. I've been applying heat but the problem is that putting something on the back of my neck makes me adopt a turtle-head kind of position that probably doesn't help the pain. I've been using a capsacin-based muscle rub. It seems to work well on my pain, but the feeling of heat doesn't fade which keeps my consicous of the area, which is causing me stress. I have a neck stretcher and shakti matt en route from amazon.

And yes, I have the same provincial health insurance as every other resident of Ontario. I had pain killers, blood work, a CT scan, and an MRI in the emergency room and then when I got the results I walked out without so much as signing a receipt or having any idea how much it might have cost. I will never know how much it cost nor see any kind of invoice or receipt or accounting of costs, nevermind paying . I have enough to worry about with the covid and the pain and the test results. I don't have the emotional or mental energy to be worried about having to pay for healthcare.

I'm really hoping this goes away before I can seek actual PT advice, but I'll definitely have that top of my list if it lasts much longer than the covid.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:02 AM on January 2

I find epsom salt baths helpful for stuff like this.
posted by wheatlets at 10:17 AM on January 2

I've been applying heat but the problem is that putting something on the back of my neck makes me adopt a turtle-head kind of position that probably doesn't help the pain.

I've avoided getting a 3d heater for that reason. I'm concerned about doing damage by relaxing muscles while putting them in a non-ergonomic position. I want a small electric blanket instead of what I have, I think it would work a lot better.
posted by aniola at 9:16 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tonight before bed I took tylenol, advil, muscle relaxants, and caffeine, and about an hour later I was pain free for the first time since this started. It seems caffeine was the missing ingredient because everything else I had already been taking. But now I'm awake 3 hours later because I'm scared that all those pills will kill me in my sleep somehow. Anyway, if the pain comes back I will try just the caffeine. I did talk to the pharmacist before taking all that and though she look a little aghast when I dumped the pile of bottles on the desk and said "this is what I'm taking, what should I add?" she said it was safe to add the caffeine.

I also tried a shakti mat and pillow, but by the time I tried those the pain was already gone so unknown if it helped.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:06 PM on January 2

Glad you got some relief, you were also likely awake because of the caffeine, so don’t feel guilty if you wake up next time. When you’re in lots of pain middle of the night thoughts shouldn’t be trusted.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:14 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]

« Older Good venue for an event in/around San Francisco?   |   Films that are similar to Gone With The Wind? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments