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How To Relieve Neck And Shoulder Pain Without Painkillers

We had a client with neck and shoulder pain, and like many of our clients who went to see other healthcare providers including other physical therapists, chiropractors and doctors, they were frustrated with the care.

They have been dealing with neck and shoulder pain for years with no lasting help and were desperate to discover how to relieve neck and shoulder pain without painkillers.

They were feeling hopeless that anything could be done. This client was on lots of pain and medications was the only option they were given as a solution since nothing else seemed to help.

This client literally felt like they were just living to work as they could not do anything else. They came home with neck and shoulder pain and just went to sleep to do it all over again the next day.

It is exhausting to have pain in the neck that can radiate to give you migraines, stiffness in your neck and shoulders, and even not being able to raise their arm to do activities. All these things can start in the neck.

Can you relate?

If so, you aren’t alone… This is not just one client – this is many of our clients.

How is it that we can show people how to relieve neck and shoulder pain without painkillers, and get people back to living their lives. We have literally had patients say to us, “I did not think I could get my life back” and they do!

How To Relieve Neck And Shoulder Pain Without Painkillers

So here are some of my best ways to relieve neck and shoulder pain without painkillers. The first step to end neck and shoulder pain is to improve your mobility. All the problems in the neck that create shoulder blade, shoulder problems and migraines can be lack of movement in the upper neck, mid neck, lower neck and ribs!

You have to start there in looking at what moves and does not move. If you do not improve the movement, the tissue around the joints will stay tight. That is why massage does not work in these scenarios. Your tissue is tightening up due to compensation or protection. If you can not move correctly, then you cannot start with strengthening or stretching first. You have to get the joints to move.

What is the 2 most common joint mobility exercises we give to our clients who struggle with
neck and shoulder pain?

  1. Neck Retraction – We tend to bend forward looking at our phone and moving our head forward to look at a screen. Or sitting slouched which then moves the neck in a poor forward posture. This happens all day long and we need to offset all that bending forward.
    One way we do that is by doing neck retractions –


Sit up on a good posture. Look straight ahead and move the neck back like someone is coming in for a kiss! And that is the exercise. You laugh, but everyone does the motion correctly when I share this. Do this exercise 2-4 times a day for 8-10 times. This helps off set the forward head position
and keeps the neck joints moving.

2. Thoracic extension– Towel roll under your upper back – This helps to keep the dowager’s hump away and also helps your neck and shoulder movements. Your shoulder blade has to glide over the rib cage in order for your shoulder to move. So if your ribs do not move this can affect your shoulder range of motion. Many doctors and other health care providers when they see you have lost your shoulder range of motion and have shoulder pain only look at the shoulder. There could be problems in your neck and thoracic spine area creating your shoulder problem and we find that this is often the case.


Taking a towel to put it in your upper back around your shoulder blades helps to not only improve your posture, but also helps your neck and shoulder movements too.

Once you have everything moving, then you can start working on improving your muscle recruitment. Since you did not have the mobility or the movements your body tends to compensate. A common pattern is to elevate the shoulder verses getting the shoulder blade muscles to work
and help. We need to break that pattern.

TWO of the best exercises I like to help with Neck and Shoulder Pain is:

  1. Prone extension – You will be lying face down – put a towel roll under your forward to keep a good neck position. Then you will depress the shoulders toward your feet, then squeeze the shoulder blades together (keep the shoulders down) and raise the arms. This helps to recruit the correct muscles against gravity (They are harder than you think).
  2. Prone rows – You will be in the same position as above on your stomach with a towel roll under your head. Your arms will look like a “W” and you will depress the shoulders down to your feet and raise the arms off the table or floor by squeezing the shoulder blades.

Do both these exercises after you improve your mobility to start re educating your body on how to move. These are good stepping stones to helping you relieve neck and shoulder pain.

Often times people need more help to address more specific exercises on what is going on with their neck and shoulders. Upper cervical can be a problem that needs to be addressed. You might need different exercises or adding more force to what you are doing. Or you must may need some manual work and assist you in the progressing of your exercises to get you full resolution so you can get back to doing the things you love without constant pain in your neck and shoulders.

Either way we have several options for your to continue your learning on how to relieve neck and shoulder pain without painkillers…

If you would like to speak to one of our specialists to discover more on what you might be doing wrong, why your are not getting better, the source of your neck and shoulder pain, and to get all your questions answered, then you want to arrange a FREE Discovery Visit. Do not delay in arranging your FREE Discovery Visit as we have limited spots each week for these appointments.

Check out our mPower Physical Therapy YouTube Channel with more great education and information. Make sure you subscribe, so you can be up to date with all our new videos that come out.

If you just want more information and expert advice on neck and shoulder pain so you can get neck and shoulder pain relief without painkillers, download our FREE Neck and Shoulder Pain Report.

We also have lots of other blogs filled with top tips, and simple advice for Neck and Shoulder Pain.