1.Some people find cold packs can reduce how sensitive the area is and allow the muscle to relax. Alternatively, you may use some heat on the neck and shoulder muscles to help them relax eg hot water bottle, hot pack or shower. Often it is easiest to apply something for 10 minutes every hour but you can leave things on your neck for 20-30 minutes as long as you let the neck return to normal temperature before repeating the treatment again. Be careful if you have sensitive skin not to get a either a heat or cold burn.
2.Lie down flat and REST as much as possible for the first 24-48 hours while the pain and stiffness is very bad. This too will allow the muscles to relax and so ease the pain.
3.A temporary collar may be needed for a short period of time. Usually for the first 24-48hours. This again will rest the neck muscles and allow them to relax.
If your neck isn’t feeling too sore you can try to regularly remove the collar and gently move your neck to try to prevent things stiffening up too much.
Here is an easy way to make a temporary collar.:
Take a pillow case, fold it in half length wise
Next fold that three times so you end up with a pillow case that is
one sixth normal width.
Wrap this folded pillowcase around your neck and then tape in place.
You can wear this while up or sleep with it on.
4.The type and number of pillows you use can have quite an effect on the amount of pain you will have. Usually it’s best to sleep with a lower pillow but you may need to start with a couple and work your way down to a thin pillow over a day or two Some pillows, particularly foam ones, will compress and flatten while you are sleeping. . If you end up with your head tilted all night it can really irritate things. Which ever type of pillow you have, you can modify the pillow to make sleeping easier:
Take a towel and fold it to make a 2-4 cm pad.
Stick this in your pillow case under the pillow and it will stop your head from tilting over into a painful position while you sleep.
You can also take a small towel and roll it up and put this in the leading edge of the pillowcase to support the curve of your neck.
5.If you can’t tolerate something around your neck then an alternative it to use a sandbag. You can put a sandbag (or equivalent) beside your head when you are lying on your back so that you can’t turn your head in the most painful direction.
6.When you lie down the weight of your legs will pull on your spine whether on your back or on your side. You can sleep with 1-2 pillows between/under your knees to stop your spine being pulled sideways while you sleep.
7.All of these measures can be useful during the initial attack of neck pain and may get you to the point where you can progress further with self treatment or to the point where you can tolerate being treated by a professional. After numerous years of contact sports (including wrestling/rugby/judo) as well as numerous car accidents (I was driven into 5 times in the first 5 years here in the UK!) I can tell you from personal experience that these methods can be effective. I know that there are many approaches to dealing with neck pain and I am sure that some of what I have said will be a bit controversial. Tell me your thoughts or suggestions. I am always happy to hear of ways to improve what I have to offer my patients.
I hope this information is helpful for you.