Stiff neck is a very painful and uncomfortable condition for many. It involves pain in the neck area, which may affect a person’s focus and activities of daily living. The following are the causes, signs and symptoms, and home remedies for stiff neck.
Stiff neck has various causes. According to Spine-Health, the condition is usually a result of a soft tissue sprain or a muscle sprain. A case in point is the levator scapulae muscle, which is located a the posterior or back side part of the neck. It connects the shoulder and the neck’s cervical spine and it is innervated or controlled by the third and the fourth cervical nerves. As per the publication, it is a very sensitive structure to injury, since it may be strained following activities like sleeping with the neck at an awkward position, falling or sudden impact that pushes the head to the side like sports injuries, turning the head side to side repeatedly like in swimming, slouching with poor posture while viewing the computer monitor or looking downward at the cellular phone for long time periods. Cradling a phone between the neck and shoulder, as well as excessive stress or anxiety, may also result to stiff neck.
Signs and Symptoms
Stiff neck presents a number of symptoms. According to Medicine Net, it may be accompanied by shoulder stiffness, shoulder pain, and headache. As per the publication, these may result from disorders of any structure in the neck, which contains cervical vertebrae that surround the spinal cord and canal. Sometimes, the symptoms may affect the range of motion of the head and neck, which may interfere in activities that require such movement.
Treatment goals for stiff neck usually involve pain reduction and recovery acceleration. Along with pain medications that may be prescribed for unbearable pain, remedies can also be done at home to manage the condition.
Cold and Heat Application
One remedy for stiff neck is the application of cold and heat. According to Spine-Health, cold application helps decrease inflammation in the neck, allowing it to heal. The application should be done with an interval of 20 minutes during the first 24 hours of neck pain. Meanwhile, heat application promotes blood circulation, which allows provision of oxygen and nutrients to the area. As per the publication, this promotes healing. Some people are relieved by application of continuous low level heat from a heat wrap.
Massage is another remedy for stiff neck, since it helps relax the muscles while promoting the flow of blood to the affected area; this way, the stiffness will be reduced. As per Top 10 Home Remedies, the person takes a hot bath or shower to relax the neck muscles. Then, olive, coconut, or mustard oil is warmed and applied on the affected area. As per the publication, the oil is massage on the area using firm, but gentle strokes for several minutes.
Another remedy is moving the stiff neck. According to Prevention, this may be quite painful, but it may relieve the condition. As per Mayo Clinic physical therapist Allyn Kakuk, as cited by the publication, the person turns his head slightly in the direction opposite the cramp and bends it diagonally, as if he were attempting to touch his armpit with his chin. According to the publication, this attempt to activate the cramped neck muscle, with the utilization of pressure, can help relax the kink. The movement is followed by a stretch to promote muscle relaxation.
Stiff neck is an uncomfortable experience for a person. Thus, it is best to seek medical consult if the stiff neck persists; this is for adequate assessment, planning, intervention, health education, and evaluation.