We’ve all experienced neck pain in one way or another—perhaps you slept on it weird the night before, or you spent all day bent over a laptop or project. Or maybe you are even suffering from the effects of an injuring such as whip-lash. We rely heavily on the well-being of our neck muscles to hold up our heads and to make natural, comfortable movements. If you are experiencing stiffness or pain in the neck, it’s important to know exactly what might be causing your neck pain, and when it’s time to see your doctor about it.
Stiff neck pain is incredibly common, and can occur from a number of different things such as the following:
- Slouching for long periods of time
- Bending over a project or device
- Sleeping in a weird position
- Result of a bigger injury
- Tension in muscles due to stress
Depending on the pain or stiffness in your neck, you may be able to relieve it yourself from home. However, if the pain is recurring or unbearable, then it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Here are a few at-home remedies to relieve temporary stiff neck:
- Ice pack
Applying ice to the stiff areas of your neck can help numb the pain and minimize any inflammation or swelling. This treatment is most effective within 48 hours of the injury.
If your muscles are tense from stress or overuse, then try applying heat. Relax your muscles by lying down with a heating pad on your neck, or sooth them with a nice hot bath.
You may try using over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve some of the pain. Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for the safest use.
Depending on the severity of the stiffness, you may not have a wide range of movement in your neck. Ease into stretching your neck muscles with slow, careful movements to avoid causing more harm than help.
Oftentimes the best remedy for stiff muscles is to give them a break. Whether they are tight from stress, or tense from overuse, it may be beneficial to find a comfortable position to lie down and give your muscles a break.
Unless your neck pain is a result of an injury or illness, then there are different ways to help prevent minor pain or stiffness. Consider these suggestions for changing a bad habit that may be leading to your neck pain:
- Avoid looking down at your cell phone for long periods of time.
- Try improving your standing and sitting posture.
- Take breaks to walk around if you tend to sit for extended periods of time in your day.
- Invest in a pillow that will better support your head and neck.
- Exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong.
- Engage in stress-relieving activities regularly such as meditation or yoga.
When your neck is stiff, it suddenly makes regularly-natural movements uncomfortable and sometimes even unbearable. While these pains are usually only temporary, they can occasionally lead to more serious problems or be a sign of something larger such as arthritis or meningitis. If the pain persists, find a neck and spine specialist you can talk to.