neck and shoulder painUsing heat is one of the most effective ways to relieve neck pain and the uncomfortable side-effects and disorders that can be associated with it.

Depending upon the type of injury or damage that you have, alternating hot and cold therapy can alleviate the swelling and pain that come from certain medical issues.

Using a heating pad for neck pain relief is still one of the most popular ways to self-treat at home.

Spinal and Nerve Problems

The majority of neck pain comes from spinal and nerve problems. Although, there are some issues that can be complicated by the muscles of the neck as well. This is usually due to spinal misalignment or trauma to the muscle itself.

If your doctor has advised you to use a therapy that alternates between hot and cold for your neck, ice packs and heating pads are the most reliable methods.

Cervical Spondylitis

Cervical spondylitis is basically arthritis of the neck, better known as osteoarthritis. This is commonly caused be injury to the neck. The swelling and stiffness that comes with a flare-up can be painful to say the least. But, because heat can speed up the blood circulation when it is applied to an area it can help reduce the soreness and tenderness that comes from a stiff neck.

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Loosen and Relax

You can use a heating pad before doing any activities that can irritate chronic injuries like muscle strains or sprains because heat can help loosen tissues and keep previously injured areas relaxed. A recent review from pointed to the benefits of heat therapy for neck and shoulder pain.

Analgesic Effect

When blood flow is increased to an injured area, it brings oxygen and nutrients with it that can help to speed up the healing process. Heat helps muscles to relax, which can relieve some kinds of pain stimulants. Creating the sensation of heat on the soft tissue of the skin will also provide something called an analgesic effect. This means that it alters the brains perception of pain so you don’t sense as much pain.

Chronic Pain

Using heating pads for neck pain is also a great way to relieve pain in the area that is caused by chronic conditions of the muscles and joints, such as: Arthritis, Old sprains or strains, Muscle spasms, and Muscle stiffness. Even abdominal pain due to Minstrel Cycles can be aided by applying a heating pad over the stomach.

When to Not Apply Heat

Heating pads are best used for injuries or conditions that are not acute. In other words, do not apply a heating pad to a new injury. At this stage, heat could cause an increase in swelling, and in most cases can elevate your pain level. You should never apply heat over an area that has irritated skin or an open wound, as this can actually slow down the healing process.

Be Safe

The safest way to applying a heating pad to a neck injury is use it for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You will also want to use enough layers to pad your skin from the heating pad to prevent any burns from happening. Always follow the user guidelines when using heating pads for neck pain and discomfort.