Approximately 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain. For many of these people, the source of their discomfort rests in their necks. Although the problem is commonly treated with a combination of pain medication and physical therapy, there are some simple things you can do in your daily life that may also reduce or eliminate your neck pain, and here are two you should try.
Drink More Water
At first glance, it may seem like there is little connection between water intake and neck pain. Considering that water is an important component in almost all of the body's processes, though, even a small loss can cause health problems. In particular, the discs situated between the vertebrae in the spine act as shock absorbers that prevent the bones from bumping and grinding against each other. These discs are composed of up to 80 percent water that must be replenished regularly so the discs can continue functioning properly.
While these discs naturally lose water due to age, you can help keep them as healthy as possible by staying hydrated. The amount of water you need varies depending on your age, gender, weight, geographic location, and overall health. For instance, healthy men living in temperate climates need about 13 cups of water per day, while women with the same demographics need about 9 cups. People who are overweight need to drink more water, while those who are smaller may not need as much.
A good rule of thumb is to use your thirst mechanism to help you determine how much water you need. If you drink 8 cups of water per day and you find you're still thirsty, then increase the amount you drink until you feel satisfied.
Urine color is another good indicator of hydration. When you're properly hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow to clear in color. Be aware, though, that medication can change the color of your urine. So learn what's normal for you and use that to determine if you're getting enough water.
Increase Vitamin Intake
Vitamin deficiency can contribute to neck pain in a couple of different ways. Lack of certain vitamins, such as vitamin D, can lead to degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis or osteomalacia. Vitamin B12 is critical for a healthy functioning brain and nervous system. A deficiency in this area can lead to muscle weakness, numbness, and the sensation of pins and needles due to the nerves failing to communicate with each other and the brain properly. Magnesium is another important vitamin responsible for helping muscles contract and relax properly. Too little of this vitamin and your muscles may not operate as smoothly as they should be, resulting in stiffness and pain.
Making changes to your diet to ensure you're getting an adequate supply of these vital nutrients may alleviate the pain in your neck. Generally, the best way to obtain these vitamins is through the foods you eat. Here are some of the good sources for the vitamins listed above:
- Vitamin D – milk, cheese, yogurt, egg yolks, tuna, salmon, fortified cereal
- Vitamin B12 – red meat, sardines, mackerel, Swiss cheese, salmon, yogurt
- Magnesium – raw spinach, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils, avocados
A registered dietician or Google search can provide more information about the foods you can eat to obtain these vitamins.
If you're dealing with dietary restrictions or otherwise can't get these vitamins from food, the other option is to take supplements. Vitamin supplements can be purchased at just about any retailer. However, consult with your doctor first to get an idea of how much you should consume to avoid overdosing on these vitamins and having to deal with the associated consequences.
There are other things you can do to combat chronic neck pain. Contact a pain management specialist or check out websites like http://swfna.com for assistance with safely handling this problem.