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Stiff Neck Causes and Remedies

A stiff neck can be caused due to sleeping in a wrong position, using a pillow that causes the head to be elevated, whiplash, etc. Let's take a look at some remedies that will help alleviate the condition.
HolisticZine Staff
Have you ever woken up in the morning unable to turn your neck? It's when our neck muscles begin to give trouble, that we realize we even have muscles in the neck. Sleeping in the wrong position or using a high pillow can lead to neck pain.

The pain can be mild or can be harrowing, hampering one's daily routine. For some people a stiff neck can continue for several days, causing them to be in constant agony. Moreover, sleeping can become quite difficult. The pain in the neck can even travel down to the shoulders and upper back. Stiff neck causes occasional fever and headache as well.

What Causes a Stiff Neck

Sleeping in awkward positions at night can cause the neck muscles to strain and get inflamed, thereby resulting in muscles spasms in the neck region. However, stiff necks are also caused by several other factors such as:
  • Maintaining poor neck posture at work
  • Cold draft
  • Lifting heavy baggage
  • Accidents involving whiplash, causing the neck to snap back and forth
  • Falls
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Physical activities
Any kind of wear and tear caused by any reason in the neck muscles, will begin to tighten as one's body begins to relax during sleep. This is why you can feel the pain when you get up in the morning. Working on the computer in a single position for long hours can cause the neck muscles to strain and become stiff.

Remedies You Can Try

In such situations, people immediately pop in anti-inflammatory medicines, for instant pain relief. Some even try massaging the neck with all sorts of weird massage rubs. However, let's look at some natural ways to alleviate the pain.

Appropriate Pillow
The remedy called for will depend on the underlying cause. Check the height of your pillow and if it's the type that causes your head to be elevated, replace it with a single soft feather pillow. The memory foam pillows (cervical pillows) take the shape of one's head. If your pain is really bad, get an orthopedic pillow which has the central portion hollowed out. Make sure you do not prop your head on two to three pillows, because this can cause the neck to become stiff.

Breaks at Work
To alleviate muscle tension, one should take breaks frequently. Just turning one's head every now and then, helps prevent the neck muscles from freezing. Several office chair exercises are available, which help you stretch and exercise your muscles while sitting in the office chair itself!

Cold Therapy
The age-old cold therapy is useful to alleviate inflammation and also impart a numbing effect. For immediate relief place an ice pack in a towel and set it on the aching neck for 10-15 minutes. Make sure you time yourself!

Heat Therapy
A hot compress is useful in alleviating the pain. In a pot of hot water, souse a towel and wring it out. Apply the hot towel on your neck and wait for the heat to soothe the pain. You could also use a hot water bottle or heating pad for half an hour, thrice a day to bring relief. Allowing hot water to fall on your neck during a shower can also help relieve the pain.

If the stiffness in your neck persists even after a few days of trying out these remedies, it is better that you seek medical attention. You may want to check and find out if the condition is conduced by cervical spondylosis. This degenerative condition of the lower cervical portion often leads to pain and stiffness in the back. The causes of a stiff neck as far as children are concerned may be many, including meningitis. So, make sure you contact your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.