The Products Doctors Swear By For Neck Pain

Neck pain being, well, a pain in the neck? Relieve the aches and muscle tension with these expert-backed items.
Try one of these items the next time your neck pain strikes.
Sam Edwards via Getty Images
Try one of these items the next time your neck pain strikes.

Neck pain is an extremely common problem; it’s estimated about 80% of people will experience it at some point in their life.

And it’s no surprise it’s so common, considering all the time we spend on our computers and mobile devices. The issue is prevalent in folks who spend long hours with their necks bent forward, which is otherwise known as “tech neck” or “text neck.” Neck pain can also be caused by other moves or injuries. Anyone who has ever slept the wrong way knows that it’s actually pretty easy to hurt your neck unintentionally.

“With over 300 muscles in the neck, it is common to irritate or ‘over-stretch’ a muscle from overuse or overexertion such as turning the head side to side,” said Rahul Shah, a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon in New Jersey. “Additionally, neck pain can come from causes that go beyond the muscles and tendons within the neck. Other causes of neck pain can include irritation of the neck joints, arthritic bone spurs, and disc or spinal cord problems.”

So how do the experts handle this issue? Below are a few products doctors personally recommend. (Of course it’s always best to chat with your physician about your specific case; if your neck pain isn’t getting better within a few days, reach out to your doctor to see what they can do.)

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Thera Cane Massager
This contraption might look kind of intimating, but it comes highly recommended by several doctors, including Ai Mukai, a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Texas Orthopedics in Austin. Mukai said the Thera Cane is usually her go-to recommendation for “trigger point and muscle-based pain” but you should go slow.

“It’s important to read the instructions that come with the massager because you can definitely overdo it and cause more pain and also realize it’s meant more for trigger point release — so to apply pressure and wait for it to release rather than constant movement and massaging,” she said.

Get one for $29.95.
Tiger Balm
For years, Tiger Balm has been a go-to for pain relief.

Kristina Hendija, a family medicine practitioner and medical adviser to Beardoholic, said topical creams like Tiger Balm are easy to apply directly to your neck and they get the job done.

"Topical analgesics such as this are handy and easy to use," she explained, adding that this is a great option if you're sensitive to medication since "only the skin absorbs the medicine directly onto the affected area."

Get a jar for $7.99.
Tylenol
If pain relief creams aren’t your thing, consider picking up a bottle of over-the-counter pills like Tylenol. Mukai said Tylenol, as well as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, can be taken sparingly as needed for pain. Just don’t exceed the dosage on the bottle, and talk to your doctor if you have health problems like kidney issues.

Get a bottle of 100 gel capsules for $10.47.
Misiki Memory Foam Pillow
Daniel A. Barone, a neurologist, doctor of sleep medicine and author of "Let’s Talk About Sleep," said the ideal pillow is "one that is firm enough to allow for the head, neck and spine to be in alignment."

One option is the Miski Memory Foam Pillow, which is a cervical neck pillow that comes highly recommended by Hendija. She said a neck pillow can help keep the proper C-angle of the cervical spine. With a memory foam pillow, the spine can be aligned even during sleep.

Get one for $52.99.
Sunbeam Heating Pad
Hendija also recommended the Sunbeam Heating Pad, which is a hot compress pad that "can naturally relieve muscle tension and improve blood flow to the target area."

"Using a dedicated heating pad product can help deliver gentle and controlled heat to the area, unlike using DIY hot compress such as bottles, where the heat is directly on the skin," she said.

Get one for $45.24.
Viopatch Herbal Pain Relief Patches
Ben E. Paxton, a diagnostic radiologist at Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott in Arizona, recommended Viopatch Herbal Pain Relief Patches.

He said these patches are specifically designed to provide long-lasting relief associated with muscle strains and stiffness.

"It contains a blend of herbal ingredients that provide a soothing sensation from the neck to shoulder with its cooling property, this offers great comfort and reduction of pain," he said. "This can work for up to 12 hours without the need for reapplication. It is waterproof, non-greasy and easy to apply."

Get a box for $14.50.
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