Published: 02/28/2016 - Updated: 03/01/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
A stiff neck is characterised by difficulty turning or moving the neck accompanied by pain. Other symptoms of having a stiff neck may include headaches or arm aches, stabbing pain between the neck and shoulder, which can often be unbearable, among others. Neck pain sometimes disappears in a matter of days, it may also extend to a week or be a recurring pain that comes and goes in differing periods of time.
Why does this happen?
Neck pain or a stiff neck may have several causes, including -but not limited to – the following:
- A sprain or muscle injury
- Having poor posture, for example being at the computer and slouching in your chair
- Sleeping with a bad neck position
- Tension as a result of stress
- Exercises that involve sudden neck movements
- Straining yourself by keeping the neck in an awkward position for a long time
Neck pain and stiffness can also occur as a result of more serious illnesses such as meningitis and the presence of herniated discs, among others. Therefore we must not overlook neck pain, especially if it accompanied by other symptoms.
Home Remedies for a stiff neck
Neck pain can range from being quite mild to severe, however when it is very intense, it can prevent you from turning your neck, or carrying out normal tasks. It is important, therefore, to consider the following treatments if you are suffering from this pain:
Massage: It is often the remedy most resorted to. Simply mix a little olive oil with a drop of lavender or rosemary essential oil, take a little of the mixture with your fingers and give yourself a gentle massage on the neck muscles. This can help you relax muscles and promote circulation, thereby relieving stiffness.
Applying Heat: Heat can help fight a stiff neck. Wet a towel in hot water and apply it over the painful area. Be careful to regulate the temperature so you do not burn yourself. You can also take a hot shower.
Applying Cold: Ice can be especially useful if your neck pain is due to injury, since it reduces inflammation and is used to relieve pain. All you have to do is wrap some ice in a towel and apply to the aching muscle(s).
Bath with Epsom salts: This is a salt rich in magnesium, which helps improve and promote blood circulation and reduces muscle tension. You can prepare a tub of warm water and dissolve some of the salt in it to take a relaxing bath.
Apple cider vinegar: This is often used to treat muscle pain and is a very simple remedy. It involves soaking a towel with apple cider vinegar and applying on the sore area for several minutes or even a couple of hours, when the pain has subsided.
Raw radish: This remedy to relieve neck stiffness requires the application of radish slices on the affected area. Wait a few minutes and remove before any skin irritation occurs. This is a refreshing and soothing option.
Arnica: This is the quintessential natural ingredient to alleviate bumps and bruises, but also can be used to relieve muscle pain. Today it can be found as an ingredient in arnica creams, salves or ointments which are applied to the painful area. Often the relief is immediate.
Exercise: If the neck can be moved, some gentle exercises can relieve pain. Try to gently move the neck in a circular or back and forth rolling movement. If your are experiencing pain, it is best to avoid movements.
Supplements to prevent and combat pain and neck stiffness
Some ingredients and supplements are good for pain and to prevent it in the first place. If you suffer from recurrent pain, you may find relief in these options:
Magnesium: This is a mineral that can help us relieve certain muscle aches, especially if there is a deficiency of magnesium in our body. After consumption of magnesium supplementation, it is possible that the pain and stiffness in the neck will be less likely.
Celery Seeds: This is a plant with diuretic properties that helps promote the reduction of toxins in the body, so consuming an infusion of celery seed daily for a couple of days can relieve neck stiffness.
General recommendations for a stiff neck
Prevent stiff neck may be possible if this poor posture should or stress.
- Watch your sleeping position, avoid sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces such as chairs.
- Try to maintain a proper posture while sitting or doing an activity, avoid slouching or awkward postures.
- Trying to reduce stress can be difficult, but taking some measures like regular exercise, walks or yoga, may be enough. There are also relaxing massages or other relaxing activities such as chatting with friends.
- Avoid using too many pillows and preferably use firm pillows, but not rigid. There are some that anatomically fit the neck and head, so if you tend to have problems with neck pain it is possible that this type of pillow will be a good investment for you.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 03/01/2017
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