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5 Ways to Treat a Stiff Neck

Try Acupressure

Chinese medicine holds that there is an acupressure point that can be tapped to help relieve the pain of a stiff neck. This point is located on the hand, in the depression just below the first set of knuckles between your index and middle fingers. To activate this acupressure point, gently press on the front and back of it at the same time, using the index finger and thumb of the opposite hand. If the pain from your stiff neck is on the right side of your body, use the acupressure point on the left hand, and vice versa. Keep pressing, slowly increasing pressure until the point starts to develop a mild ache. When this happens, you should feel the muscles in your neck start to relax. Repeat this procedure several times a day until you have complete relief of your stiff neck pain.

Apply the Proper Herbs

There are several herbs that can treat the pain of a stiff neck, and these herbs are commonly available in cream form. Menthol is one such herb, and it has a cooling effect when applied to the neck that works to relieve pain. Camphor reduces swelling and increases blood circulation to the area, while making the area to which it is applied feel warm. Capsaicin relieves pain over a period of days or weeks by gently numbing the nerve endings on the area to which it is applied. You'll have to apply capsaicin cream two to three times a day for 1 to 2 weeks to get full pain relief, but once those benefits kick in, they will continue to last for as long as you keep applying the cream.

Massage the Affected Area

Self-massage is an excellent technique for relieving the pain of a stiff neck. You can massage yourself with your hand, with a battery-powered back massager or with a massaging shower head. Simply apply a comfortable amount of pressure with the instrument of your choice to the painful parts of your neck, rubbing and stroking the area until the muscles relax and the pain decreases. You can do this several times a day for as long as your neck remains painful. Massage will increase blood flow to the area, which allows for faster healing, and it will also help ease the tense muscles that are contributing to the problem.

Sleep on a Contoured Neck Pillow

Pillows that are too hard, too thin or don't provide enough support will only make your problem worse. You also run the risk of sleeping in a position that strains your neck muscles even more. Sleeping on a contoured neck pillow will help gradually relieve your stiff neck and reduce the risk that you'll have a recurrent episode. Contoured neck pillows are designed to fit the curves of your head and neck, offering good support and keeping your neck in an optimal position all night long. These pillows are generally very comfortable, so lots of people continue to sleep on them after their neck problems go away.

Put Some Ice on It

Ice packs work wonders for stiff necks. The cold of the pack has a pain-relieving effect and reduces the swelling and inflammation that may be keeping you from moving your neck properly. Use ice packs on the sore spots on your neck for 15 minutes at a time, as many times a day as necessary. Just make sure that you wrap the pack in a towel before placing it against your skin to avoid causing any tissue damage.

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About the Author

Aubrey Bailey has been writing online health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have also appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a Certified Hand Therapist.

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