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Coping with a Pain in the Neck
It's not an irritating person we're talking about here. It's that annoying neck discomfort or pain you get from too much hunching over when driving, using a computer, or doing a project at a workbench.

Your head weighs 6 to 10 pounds, so your neck has quite a job to keep it balanced on top of your body. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say it's no wonder that about 10 percent of adults have neck pain at one time or another, often frequently. There are several steps you can take to prevent neck pain, or reduce the symptoms.

Improve your posture. Keep your head upright by practicing sitting or standing tall with your shoulders relaxed. Avoid activities that tilt your head to one side or downward for periods of time. Don't sleep on your stomach.

Relax tense muscles. Try deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. A heating pad or warm shower can help your muscles relax. Take nonprescription pain medications. If necessary, take Tylenol or other over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and help you stay active - one of the best ways to promote healing. In the first few days after a strain, use an ice pack wrapped in a towel for up to 20 minutes several times a day.

Gentle stretches. They can help restore or sustain neck range of motion and stretch tense muscles. If you aren't sure how to do them, ask a physical therapist.

  • Neck rotation. Slowly rotate your head from side to side.
  • Neck tilting. Tip the head to one side, then the other, moving your ear closer toward each shoulder.
  • Neck bending. Bend your neck forward as if trying to touch your chin to your chest. Then bend it backward.