A stiff neck occurs because muscles in the neck weaken due to issues like posture, according the chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC, of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Activities such as looking down at a computer all day can cause the muscles around the neck joints to tire and become overstretched.
If you’re doing this day after day, it can add up and can displace your neck joints. What are some ways to relieve neck pain?
Dr. Bang says if the neck pain is bothersome, pay attention to the sleep positions. Sleep only on the side or on the back and never on your stomach. When sleeping on the stomach, twisting of the head occurs. Sleeping on the stomach can affect the lower back because the stomach sinks in to the bed if there isn’t any support.
When sleeping don’t use too many pillows, states Harvard Medical School. Sleeping with numerous pillows under your head can stifle the neck’s range of motion. In the morning the feeling of stiffness in the neck can be due to the number of pillows being used when sleeping. Sleep on a flatter pillow instead to avoid stiffness in the neck.
Posture is very important to avoid neck pain. Having the computer monitor at eye level, sitting up straight and avoiding tilting and twisting your head down or to the side while you’re on the computer can help avoid any neck pain. When driving take frequent breaks and avoid having the neck bent forward for a long period of time.
The key to relief for a stiff neck is proper stretching and manipulation, says Dr. Bang. The kinds of stretches that can be done are:
- Rolling the shoulders backwards and down about 10 times
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together 10 times
- Push the head backwards into the car head rest or hands and hold for 30 seconds
- Bring the ear to the shoulder 10 times on each side
Massage helps move fluid around, which can help prevent scar tissue in the neck, states the health website Verywell Health. After the first few days, massage can help work out tension and knots in the muscles. For neck and low back pain, the massage should be very gentle during the first few days to avoid making things worse.
Some people use pain relief with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, according to Mayfield Clinic. A muscle relaxant may even be prescribed for spasms. If the pain is severe, an analgesic may be prescribed that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant.
Ice or heat
To control inflammation, apply an ice pack, states Verywell Health. The inflammation causes pain and can lead to a chronic issue in the neck and shoulders. Apply an ice pack or bag of a frozen item that can be found in the refrigerator to the neck for about 10-15 minutes three or more times a day to help relieve the pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Taking a hot shower or bath can also help relax and feeling of strained muscles.