BACK, SHOULDER, AND NECK PAIN SHOULD NEVER BE IGNORED. DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE PAIN BECOMES CHRONIC.

Back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain are quite common symptoms. However, these are the symptoms which can significantly interfere with our daily lives. It is also important to understand that back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain are not diseases. They are considered as a syndrome which is only a disease expression. These pains practically are warning signs showing that our bodies are facing some problems and that we should get them taken care of and treated immediately. If we ignore and leave them for too long, they could cause much bigger problems or even damage our other related systems such as nervous system or spinal cord which may result in a chronic disease.

Why do we have back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain?

These pains are normally caused by bad posture from, for example, sitting down at work for extended periods, sudden awkward movements, heavy lifting, or just being overweight. The root cause of these pains usually comes from an inflammation of the following internal body organs.

  1. Tendons
  2. Muscles
  3. Nervous System
  4. Poor body structure caused by abnormal postures or positions

Since there are a lot of muscles, tendons, and nervous systems along the back and neck area, whenever we get any of these pains we should try to identify the area of the inflammation in order to get the right treatment and solve the problem at the root cause.

Pain indicates inflammation

Pain is the body’s defense system which warns us when there is an injury inside our bodies. Inflammation serves as a defense mechanism against infection and injury. Once there is an injury, an enzyme called “Cyclooxygenase (COX)” is stimulated causing the body to release some liquid compound which initiates and perpetuates inflammation resulting in some aches and pains. Some chemical compound such as Methyl Salicylate etc. can inhibit the release of the enzyme to reduce the inflammation.

How to Treat Back pain, Shoulder pain and Neck pain

1.  Muscle strength exercise can help relieve back pain. Strength training not only builds up your muscle strength to work against weight or force, but also improves your muscle flexibility. Flexibility is very important as it allows your muscles to be contracted and stretched automatically which can help prevent aches and pains.

For anyone who is overweight or has had a back pain before, you should start doing some back exercises and strength training to strengthen your core muscles and your back. You can begin with some regular low-impact aerobic activities such as exercise walking, swimming, cycling, or stationary bicycling. These types of exercises not only help your muscles recover, but also lower the risk of the same injury or inflammation reoccurring. However, you should be more careful with running and aerobic dancing as they are high-impact exercises; which mean they are more likely to cause inflammation to your muscles again.

2.  Poor posture and awkward movement are some of the main causes of back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain, especially when working or driving in wrong/awkward sitting positions; therefore, you should improve your posture to prevent the problem. The proper sitting position while working or driving is to lean backward about 10 degrees so that your arm and shoulder muscles do not have to take too much pressure. Leaning your body toward a computer screen is another poor posture which puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders and can result in muscle contraction. Poor posture while using your mobile phone is also another cause of the problem, especially in this digital age where communication plays a key role in people’s lives and mobile phones have become one of our necessities. So, when typing on your phone, you should try to reach your arms at the optimal level where you can still see the texts and hold the phone at about 15 degrees below your eye level to ensure that your arms, neck, shoulders, and back are at the balanced level. Bending your head down while texting should be avoided as this can cause extra pressure on your back and shoulders and eventually can cause back and neck pain.

3.  Treating Pain with Heat or Cold Compress Cold compress can reduce the risk of swelling and tissue damage and slow the rate of inflammation in tendons as cold makes the nerve endings less sensitive to the pain or feel numb. On the other hand, hot compress improves circulation and blood flow to an injured area. As a result, the body’s healing system works better as the necessary oxygen, nutrients, and immunities are delivered to the damaged tissue for healing process. Moreover, using heat helps warm the muscles and increase the elasticity of tendons and ligaments to be back to normal quickly.

When to Use Heat or Cold Therapy

According to information about heat or cold therapy from Healthline, heat compress is suitable for muscle contraction and stiffness or other muscle related injuries. Cold compress is recommended when there are acute injuries and tendinitis i.e. irritation in the tendons.

(Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-pain/treating-pain-with-heat-and-cold#takeaway)

Different Types of Heat and Cold Treatments

There are 2 types of heat compress: short and long. Short heat compress takes about 20 minutes and it is usually used for minor stiffness such as neck or shoulder sprains. However, heat treatment ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours should be applied for moderate to severe pain and muscle strains. Heat therapy is also divided into dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat including heating pads is less effective than moist heat which includes moist heating packs and steamed towels.

Moreover, you should be more careful with cold compress as what has been done incorrectly by most people is applying frozen item directly to the skin or the injured area which can cause skin and tissue some damage. Therefore, you should use ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a towel before putting on the affected area to protect the skin from ice burn. It is advisable to use cold therapy for 10-15 minutes but not more than 20 minutes per session as it can cause damage to the skin. To be more effective, you should use cold treatment several times a day and wait at least 5-10 minutes before reapplying the next one.

There are doubts on what to use between hot and cold therapy when having a severe injury or pain. Here are our recommendations on what and how to choose. Cold treatment is effective under 2 main factors. First, use cold therapy when there are swelling, pain, or inflammation. Second, ice therapy should be applied right after the injury or pain or within 48 hours. However, heat therapy is suitable for sore muscles, stiffness, and aches. Heat is mostly used for back, shoulder, and neck pain treatments as they are mostly related to muscle contraction or stiffness.

Consequently, if you have a muscle strain with swelling or a sign of inflammation, cold therapy should be applied to reduce swelling and inflammation and control pain. Ice compress is most effective when it is applied early and often for the first 48 hours after the injury. After that, if the muscle spasm or pain remains, applying heat can increase blood flow to the injury to help speed up healing.

4.   Medication People normally use liniments or ointments to relieve the pain. Nammanmuay liniment contains a perfect combination of active ingredients for pain relief as follows.

– Methyl Salicylate is an agent causing the skin to feel warm. It helps reduce inflammation and pain by blocking the enzymes involved in the production of prostaglandins, which signal inflammation and cause pain.

– Menthol is a cooling agent which is like cold therapy. It activates the cold-sensing nerves making the affected area go numb, as a result, it makes you feel less pain.

Eugenol (Clove Oil) provides double effect by sensitizing the inflamed nerves to heat and cold in order to enhance the skin penetration of Methyl Salicylate and Menthol to reduce pain or inflammation effectively. (Click here to see Namman Muay’s ingredients)

5.  Massage If the muscle pain is caused by stiffness, a massage is recommended. When we apply pressure to the muscles we are separating the muscle fibers and stretching the muscles which can relieve the pain and restore elasticity, movement, and function of the muscles. To get a better picture of how this works, this is similar to when we knead the Roti dough, the dough becomes softened after pressure is applied to the dough again and again, the same way the tight muscle gets loosened up by a massage which can help relieve the pain.

Even though back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain are very common symptoms, they should be treated as soon as the symptoms show. Usually, these symptoms can heal within 4-6 weeks. However, if you ignore and leave them untreated for longer time such as 6 months or more, they could become much more difficult to treat later on. Especially, those pains or symptoms which do not respond well to basic treatment measures and/or even start to worsen over time. We would recommend you to seek medical attention from your doctor immediately as these common symptoms could be a warning sign of more serious illnesses.