I realized about a month ago that I have been tilting my head slightly to the right every single day for at least the last 5-7 years. At first I figured my head was just placed on my body incorrectly, but it turns out that my left eye is so much stronger than my right eye, it forces itself to take over my face by asserting it’s dominance over the whole landscape like that little green one-eyed creature from Monsters, Inc.
As a result I have constant, searing pain in the right side of my neck and shoulder. It’s had a huge negative impact on my life. So I did what any intelligent human being in my situation would do -- I ordered a bunch of crap off the Internet in an attempt to fix it myself.
Did you think I was going to say that I went to some sort of doctor? I'm one of those people who takes my own stitches out with rusty scissors -- I avoid medical attention at all costs, unless it's my dermatologist. I did, however, eventually hit up a local Thai massage spot where a lovely woman who could be easily rung up on torture charges attacked my neck in 30-minute spurts. She dug out knots that must have been there since Monica Lewinsky stained her Gap dress. It was heavenly.
But enough about her -- here's my thoughts on all the neck-related hardware I bought and tried over the last month.
THE BIG LOSER:
This is an inflatable neck-stretching device, meant to ease muscles that are super tight and to relieve pressure on nerves. Oh, but there's just one small detail -- it also casually chokes you to death.
I thought it would be the perfect thing to relax, support and stretch out my neck while I was working at my desk. Instead I found myself coughing, having trouble breathing and grinding my teeth the whole time I used it -- sort of the opposite of relaxation. The pressure it put on my throat and jaw was immense and unpleasant. Do not buy. (If anyone wants it, email me. I'll gladly send it to you.)
This ridiculous TriggerPoint Performance Therapy foam roller has actually provided me with a ton of relief.
Not only can you give yourself a massage with it, it’s great for holding your head at a perfectly straight angle simply by using it as a pillow.
Yes, that’s my MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS custom, handmade Shabby Chic Couture by Rachel Ashwell sofa in the background. It’s now exclusively the domain of my dogs while I lie on the floor with a $20 yoga mat and my foam neck device, watching Detective Lennie Briscoe crack jokes while standing over a corpse on back-to-back "Law and Order" re-runs.
Pro tip: Don't buy the camo version of the roller like I did -- it's sometimes impossible to find around the house because IT QUITE LITERALLY CAMOUFLAGES ITSELF!
THE GOLD MEDALIST:
I am a lifetime side sleeper, which wasn't helping my neck pain -- and was in fact aggravating it to the point where my shoulder, forearm and hand was numb all the time. I ordered the petite size of the Tri-Core pillow on a whim after reading a ton of reviews on Amazon. The stupid thing has changed my life since the very first night I used it. I find myself waking up still sleeping on my back -- which cuts down on my neck and shoulder pain at LEAST 50% right there.
The trick is that this pillow supports your neck without pitching your skull forward at an awkward angle. Your head rests in this little recessed pocket in the middle of the pillow, resulting in stellar neck support and near-perfect spinal alignment --which for me, equals instantly reduced pain. I look forward to going to bed every night, knowing this heavenly pillow awaits me. I do disagree with one thing the company recommends, though. You can easily sleep on your side with your head still tucked into the little pocket -- sleeping on those high, raised sides as they suggest is just putting your head at the same awkward angle as a regular old pillow does.
The only annoyance is that I have to use the petite size, as the standard one was way too big for my head -- and a regular pillowcase engulfs the pillow, which then looks totally sloppy on your perfectly made bed.
Notice I said YOUR perfectly made bed -- not mine.
Right before the magical Tri-Core pillow arrived and solved almost all of my neck problems, my hilarious comedy writer boyfriend suggested I try this over-the-door neck traction device:
You fill the bag with water and it acts as a counter-balance to stretch out your aching neck and spine. Since the doors in my 100+ year old house are already in massive danger of falling off their hinges, I passed -- but now I find myself wondering if this crazy thing might just be the missing piece of the neck pain puzzle.
I'm sure you snuggle bunnies have suggestions of other weird medical devices I could test out on myself. Do share -- I'm not a doctor, but I obviously play one on the Internet.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.