Effective Ways to Treat a Stiff Neck

Neck muscles are some of the strongest in our bodies because they carry out many essential functions, including breathing and chewing (food), as well as keeping our heads upright. Did you know that our heads weigh upwards of 10 or 11 pounds! The bones in our neck help us move our head up and down, side to side, and rotate it clockwise and counterclockwise. When these bones become injured or inflamed, people may experience neck pain that is both chronic and acute in nature. Neck muscles will often spasm in response to pain as a natural protective response.

If you are currently suffering from the discomfort of a stiff neck, the following tips and stiff neck remedies are for you!

Prioritize Self-Care When Treating a Stiff Neck

Self-care is important when it comes to stiff necks. Ensure you are getting adequate rest, to give inflamed tissues time to heal. Fortunately, people who experience stiff neck symptoms can work with their doctors to find the proper treatment plan.

Pain Killers and Muscle Relaxants for Neck Pain

Pain-killing medications have been used since the time of the pharaohs. In modern days, researchers have learned much about painkillers since then, prescribing them for various aches and pains. The most commonly used pain-killing medications are Acetaminophen, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants.

Acetaminophen and NSAIDs

Acetaminophen is often used in combination with other pain medications, such as NSAIDs or opioid drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as the name implies, reduce inflammation and are effective in treating acute or chronic neck pain. These medications are available under many different brand names.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants are drugs that are most used to treat muscle spasms, but they may also be helpful for the aches and pains of a strained neck muscle. They work by blocking nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract. Muscle relaxants are available in three different forms: oral, injected, and intravenous.

Cold Therapy to Fix a Stiff Neck

If you are suffering from a stiff neck, cold therapy can offer quick neck pain relief. Cold therapy (ice packs to the affected area) is a common method to treat neck stiffness. The treatment works by numbing nerve endings and interrupting the transmission of pain impulses between nerves and brain cells. This allows circulation to return normally into the area, bringing nutrients and removing wastes.

Ice treatment can be done only for a short period of time (15 minutes), or you can injure your skin. Make sure you wrap your ice pack in a towel or cloth for added protection. You can ice your stiff neck every three to four hours as an effective stiff neck remedy.

Neck Stretches for a Sore Neck

To stretch your neck, you should first stand or sit up straight with your shoulders back and chin tucked in slightly. Next, slowly turn your head as far as comfortable to the right. Then gently pull it back to center. Next, slowly turn your head as far as comfortable to the left and gently pull it back to center. You can also stretch the neck by looking up and then down and then over each shoulder.

A gentle and effective stretch you can do for a sore neck simply holds your chin with your thumb on one side of your face and your fingers on the other side and gently pull your head towards your chest for a count of five. You should never stretch to the point of pain but hold each stretch for about 10 seconds. Be sure you always breathe slowly while stretching and do not hold your breath.

Exercises to Relieve Neck Pain

Exercises that strengthen the muscles in your upper back, such as those that focus on strengthening your trapezius muscle, also can be beneficial for those with a sore neck because this will help improve your neck’s range of motion and decrease pain. With neck pain, you should always consult your physician before performing any neck stretches or exercises to determine if they are safe for you to do or not.

Tips to Avoid Neck Pain

The best way to avoid a sore neck is by keeping your shoulders and head straight and maintaining proper posture at all times. You should also try not to sleep with your neck bent because this can lead to stiffness and swelling in the area. If you work at a desk, you should set up your computer screen so you can look straight ahead and position your keyboard and mouse, so you do not have to twist or bend your neck too much.

Neck pain can be the result of an injury, pinched nerves, arthritis, or an underlying spinal condition. Greater Maryland Pain Management creates a treatment plan designed to safely reduce your discomfort without surgery. Contact us today to set up an appointment!