There can be little doubt that neck pain is one of the most annoying and lifestyle limiting conditions out there and so many of us have to deal with it at some point in our lives. Typically, it can be rather difficult to define the actual cause of that stiff neck issue but many of us seem to wake up with one and it can really ruin the day ahead. Okay, there is a myriad of pain killing types of drugs that can lessen the stiffness and most of them will at least allow us to get on with the business of the day, but why not try something a little more natural instead? Well, the great news is that there are plenty of natural ways to manage that stiffness and neck pain and this is what we are going to discuss in this article. We’ll first look at some plausible causes for your stiff neck and we’ll also discuss the symptoms that can give us an advanced warning if we are lucky enough. But before we do this, just remember that your sore neck may well be the precursor to something rather more serious so always consult your GP at the earliest opportunity. Meningitis has been known to be lurking around the corner when a stiff neck starts to flare up so never leave it to chance. The earlier that you can have an accurate diagnosis, the better the chance you have of getting the correct treatment.
Causes of a stiff neck
- Probably one of the most common causes of a stiff neck is the way that we sleep. Taking up an awkward position in bed may seem like a good idea at the time but those neck muscles will not thank you in the morning.
- The way that we tend to sit whilst in the office at work is another major cause of neck pain. Improper posture is still rife in the workplace and is one of the main causes for sick days.
- Stress is more and more likely to be an unwelcome part of our lives and can certainly have a negative effect on the neck muscles.
- Even something as seemingly simple as a powerful sneeze has enough force to injure your neck.
- If you enjoy contact sports including cricket or soccer, these are both well-known causes for a stiff neck. Always ensure that you look after your body when participating in such hobbies.
Typical symptoms to look out for
Although it may seem fair to say that when you have a stiff neck, you will certainly know about it, here are a few related symptoms that can act as an early warning system:
- Typically, a headache can spell the beginning of a stiff neck and even a fever could be telling you that one is on the way.
- You may start to find it difficult to get comfortable whilst lying in bed.
- You are also likely to feel some type of muscle spasm in your upper back area.
- It will usually be difficult to move your head from left to right as those muscles start to become stiff.
Natural treatments that really work
Although you will probably want to reach for that jar of painkillers, there are a number of proven natural remedies that can be just as effective for your stiff neck. What’s more, they will most definitely be better for your body in the long run and some of these are very easy to get access to from your home. So without further ado, here are some effective ways to manage neck pain and stiffness naturally:
- Massage – Who doesn’t enjoy a nice and relaxing massage at home? Most of us would opt for one of these over a few pain killing drugs every single day of the week. Why not add some lovely essential oils into the mix whilst you are at it? Pine, lavender and rosemary all work wonders when your partner or buddy is rubbing them into your painful neck. The massage itself will work by warming up those stiff muscles and the blood circulation will start to improve as a result. If you are on your own but still want to experience this little treat, you can massage yourself but ensure that you do not over do the treatment. Alternatively, book yourself into a physical therapy session and let the experts work magic with those fully trained fingers.
- Heat Pads – These little miracles are readily available in most pharmacies and also some of the larger department stores. They are applied directly to the affected area and within seconds they start to release some much-needed warmth. It works again by increasing the blood flow and the warmth starts to reduce the stiffness. Just ensure that you use the right types and if you are in doubt, speak to the pharmacist who will be more than happy to show you the appropriate products for your painful condition.
- Ice Packs – Simply crush some ice and then wrap it in a poly type bag. Then cover your affected area with a clean and soft towel before applying the ice pack gently. Before too long you will be enjoying the cool sensation and your neck pain will start to float away as if by magic. What is really happening is that the ice pack treatment is reducing the inflammation nicely and with this, the pain will also dissipate.
- Epsom Salts – The next time that you decide to have a bath, remember to sprinkle some Epson Salts into the water and get ready for a real treat. What happens is that the magnesium and sulphate that make up Epsom Salts are actually working together to improve the circulation of blood in the body and this reduces both stress and tension. They can also regulate the enzymes in our bodies and are a terrific source for natural relief from all sorts of muscle pain.
- Balm lotions – Okay, there are many types of balms such as rubefacient or analgesic and these can offer some excellent pain relief when applied directly to your stiff neck. There is also a very effective balm known as ‘Biofreeze’ that is very suitable for this exact condition. It acts a little like an icepack but is even more effective for pain relief. It is made from a little-known ingredient called ‘llex’ that is sourced in South America. This product has no smell and is particularly good for neck pain that has also reached the shoulder areas.
- Exercise – Even though it is quite likely that exercise may have been the cause of your sore neck, there are some movements that can have the opposite effect. Try moving your stiff neck in a circular fashion and you can also start moving it backward and forwards slowly. If you are feeling up to it, try doing a figure of eight movement but be careful not to push too hard. If you start feeling any painful twinges, it is time to stop the exercise before any damage is done. Ask your GP or Physical Therapist for some appropriate neck healing exercises if you are in doubt.
- Warm water shower – These are ideal for treating a stiff neck especially if you don’t have too much extra time. Simply position your neck under the shower jet using warm water for around 5 minutes. This will warm up your neck muscles and encourage better blood circulation. Do this first thing in the morning for a terrific day ahead or last thing at night for some restful sleep.
- Acupuncture – This ancient Chinese remedy has millions of fans all over the world and if you are lucky enough to find a recommended practitioner, you are definitely in luck! Just remember to explain to the acupuncturist exactly where you are experiencing the neck pain and let them start to work wonders on the affected are. Pretty soon you will be floating away on a sea of tranquillity and bliss.
- Skin scrapping – This is a treatment that needs the assistance of another person. Essentially what happens is that by using massage oil and a spoon, they work together to offer pain relief. Ask your friend to scrape the massage oil over the skin but not too firmly. So long as you are not creating even more pain than the level that you are currently experiencing, your neck will soon start to reap the dividends of this bespoke treatment.
- Magnesium tablets – These are easy enough to come by and can also help to improve your immune system. The magnesium offers a lot of relief from a painful neck and can usually be taken without any side effects.
How to avoid getting a stiff neck
Of course, prevention is always better than any cure so here we’ll look at some proven practices that should help you to avoid getting that painful and stiff neck in the first place:
- Stay hydrated – You may not have been aware of this but each of your spinal discs is made up of around 80% of water. By maintaining your levels of hydration throughout the day and evening, you can reduce the chances of getting a stiff neck greatly. By remembering to drink the recommended amount of water on a daily basis, you will also feel great no matter what the day has to offer.
- Cell phone usage – It’s true, having a bad cell phone posture is another cause for a bad and stiff neck. Try to go hands-free whenever possible and always hold the phone nice and high when you are browsing or texting. Never be tempted to cradle the phone between your head and shoulder whilst walking because this can easily cause cramps in your neck.
- Swimming – By immersing yourself in water, your neck is being treated to some very effective water therapy. You don’t need to swim dozens of lengths to enjoy the benefits but some gentle exercise will add value to the whole process.
- Physical therapist – These professionals can offer you some treatment that ensures your neck muscle group are always in tip top condition. So don’t wait until you are feeling pain, make an appointment today and they will do the rest.
We’ve discussed some excellent natural remedies for treating a sore and stiff neck and if you follow the advice given in the last paragraph, you may even avoid that need altogether.