stiff neckA stiff neck is a common issue for many people, and is typically nothing to worry about as it gets better after a couple of days. The most obvious symptom of a stiff neck is soreness at the back of the neck that is often accompanied by extreme difficulty in turning the neck sideways.

Other symptoms that accompany a stiff neck include headache, shoulder pain and in some cases arm pain. With a stiff neck, most people find that they have to turn the entire body to look at something on the side or at their back.

The most obvious cause of a stiff neck is an awkward sleeping position so that you wake up with intense pain in the neck. Poor sitting postures, strained muscles and even stress can cause neck pain. Carrying extremely heavy loads also causes significant strain on the shoulders, and when this is done regularly, becomes a causative agent of neck pain. Other causes of neck pain include trauma that affects the head and neck region and diseases such as meningitis.

A stiff neck is not usually serious, but since it interferes with your daily activities, it is important to get natural home remedies that will help ease the pain. As a general guide, if the pain does not ease after a few days, and is accompanied by a fever, make sure you see a doctor immediately as this could point to a serious underlying condition. Each of the remedies below is listed alongside the time required for application, the ingredients as well as the difficulty of the same. Most of the remedies are simple to use, and can be used regularly until the stiffness eases.


1. Massage the Neck:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Massage oil (olive, coconut or mustard oil) and a warm water bath.
Difficulty: Easy

 

One of the simplest and most effective home remedies for a stiff neck is a good massage. Massaging the stiff neck not only releases the tension present in the muscles, it also improves blood flow to the neck area. This relaxation goes a long way in eliminating the stiffness, and helps you get a good night’s sleep. To make this remedy effective, it is advisable to use warm oil. The oil prevents friction between the hands and the neck, allowing you to relax. The best time to massage your neck is during a hot bath. Get a friend to massage your neck; if possible, go for a professional masseuse.

Directions:

  1. Take a hot bath prior to using this remedy.
  2. Place the choice oil in a bowl and warm using the water bath.
  3. Have the oil applied on the stiff part of the neck.
  4. The massage should entail gentle stroking for about half an hour with breaks in between for best results.
  5. Use this remedy daily until the neck pain eases.

 


2. Cold Packs:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A handful of ice cubes and a thin towel. Frozen vegetables can also be used as an alternative.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Using a cold pack to treat a stiff neck is one of the simplest ways to get rid of the pain. The low temperatures soothe the neck by helping numb the pain. In cases where neck pain is the result of strenuous exercises, the use of an ice pack helps inhibit further production of lactic acid in the tense muscles. Left unchecked, the lactic acid causes soreness in the neck muscles. If you do not have ice cubes, you can always use a pack of frozen vegetables. As a general guide, cold packs are best used within 48 hours of the onset of neck pain.

Directions:

  1. Spread the towel and place the ice cubes in it before wrapping to create a cold pack.
  2. Rub the compress on the stiff part of the neck in gentle motions for about 15 minutes.
  3. Take a break every few minutes and repeat this procedure every couple of hours.
  4. You can always substitute the ice cubes with a pack of frozen vegetables.

NOTE: You should never apply ice cubes directly on the skin to prevent the risk of frostbites.

 


3. Heat Packs

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A clean towel and hot water. You may also use a hot water bottle.
Difficulty: Easy

 

A heat pack seems to be the direct opposite of a cold pack, but in the treatment of a stiff neck, both remedies play an integral role in providing relief. The major difference between the two is that an ice pack is recommended for use within the first 48 hours, after which a heat pack may be used. The mode of action of the heat pack is to cause the dilation of blood vessels so that there’s more blood flow to the affected muscles.

Directions:

  1. Soak the clean towel in the hot water for a few minutes and then squeeze to get rid of the excess water.
  2. Fold the hot towel and place it as a compress on the stiff neck.
  3. Let the pack remain on the neck for about 10 minutes or until the compress cools down.
  4. Repeat this severally daily until you get relief from the pain.  Alternatively, stand under a running shower and allow the jets of water to run down the neck. While at it, avoid turning your head for best results.

 


4. Peppermint Oil:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 Drops of peppermint essential oil, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a warm bath.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Peppermint essential oil delivers a cooling sensation on the stiff neck, making it easy to get relief from the pain and soreness. The oil’s menthol is responsible for this soothing sensation. Additionally, peppermint oil is analgesic, which simply means that it helps ease the discomfort. You need a carrier oil for the application of peppermint oil, and this is where olive oil comes in handy. The warm bath is included in the list of things required as it is used to warm the oil and make it more effective.
NOTE: This remedy is not intended for use in children as well as those who have sensitive skin that easily reacts to the application of different oils.

Directions:

  1. Warm the olive oil in a warm bath; you will do this by placing the oil in a shallow container and then placing that container in a bath with hot water.
  2. Add three drops of peppermint oil to the olive oil and mix well.
  3. Use the oil mixture to massage the neck, doing this as gently as you can.
  4. Repeat this procedure two times daily until the stiffness clears.

 


5. Neck Exercises to Ease a Stiff Neck:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A comfortable place.
Difficulty: Easy

 

The purpose of neck exercises is to ease the tension within the muscles by providing relief in the strained neck. These exercises are simple to do, and all you need is a comfortable place to carry them out. If you need a long-term solution to strengthen your neck and ease these exercises, regular swimming is a simple way to do this. The key to getting the most of these routines is to avoid overdoing the exercises to prevent additional strain. The same is applicable for the neck exercises – stop when it starts to hurt.

Directions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable place and make sure your back is upright but your body is relaxed.
  2. Tilt your head forwards so that you are looking at your chest and then tilt it backwards so that you are facing the sky. Repeat these movements severally for a couple of minutes.
  3. After this, bend your head sideways to the left shoulder, and then back in position and to the right shoulder. Repeat these movements for another couple of minutes.
  4. Still in the same position, turn your head sideways without moving your body. Look to the left then back to position and finally look to the right. Repeat these motions a couple of times.
  5. Wrap up the neck exercises by doing a few shoulder rolls, making sure you are as gentle as possible to avoid additional strain on the neck. Repeat these exercises whenever you feel the need to relieve the strain in the stiff neck.
  6. Whenever you can, take up regular swimming and make it a routine workout for best results.

 


6. Cayenne Pepper:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Tablespoon of cayenne red pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a warm bath and a bandage.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Cayenne pepper is yet another ideal remedy for the treatment of stiff neck. The main ingredient in cayenne pepper, and which is responsible for the remedy’s healing properties, is known as capsaicin. Capsaicin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, which means that when applied on the stiff neck, it provides pain relief. Olive oil is used in this remedy because it provides a medium for the application of the pepper powder, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to topical application, the cayenne pepper may also be added to food.

Directions:

  1. Warm the olive oil in a water bath until it is comfortable for application on the skin.
  2. Add the teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the oil and mix well.
  3. Apply the oil mixture on the stiff neck and massage for about 10 minutes.
  4. Wrap a bandage on the neck and leave it in place for 2 hours.
  5. Use this remedy twice daily until you get rid of the stiffness.

 


7. Epsom Salts

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Cups of Epsom salts and bathwater
Difficulty: Easy

 

Epsom salt is used for the treatment of a stiff neck as it contains Magnesium sulfate which helps relieve tension in the neck muscles. The salts are absorbed topically and help reduce the stiffness. Note however, that this remedy is not intended for use in people with disorders affecting the kidney or those suffering from diabetes. Follow the directions below to treat a stiff neck using Epsom salts.

Directions:

  1. Place 2 cups of the Epsom salts in the bathtub and run warm water.
  2. Soak in this water, ensuring that your neck is dipped in water.
  3. Enjoy this full body bath soak for 20-30 minutes to effectively manage the soreness.
  4. Use this remedy four times weekly until the pain is eliminated.

 


8. Turmeric Paste:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of turmeric powder, Some warm water and a bandage.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Turmeric, just like cayenne pepper, is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the pain and inflammation. The compound responsible for these healing properties is known as curcumin. When prepared as a paste and applied on the stiff neck, the paste relieves discomfort and enhances the flow of blood to the tense muscles. This remedy, however, is not recommended for those with disorders affecting the gall bladder.

Directions:

  1. Add a few drops of the water to the turmeric powder to create a paste which you can apply with ease.
  2. Massage the stiff neck using the paste.
  3. Cover the paste using a bandage to keep it in place.
  4. Use this remedy twice daily for quick relief.

 


9. Apple Cider Vinegar:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: A thin towel and raw organic apple cider vinegar.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Apple cider vinegar is used to treat a stiff neck because it has anti-inflammatory properties which not only deal with the pain, but also provide much-needed relief from the discomfort of a stiff neck. Other benefits of using apple cider vinegar include its ability to prevent straining of the muscles as well as soothe the affected area.

Directions:

  1. Soak the thin towel in the organic apple cider vinegar for a few minutes.
  2. Place the wet towel on the stiff neck and allow it to remain there for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours if you can.
  3. Repeat this procedure two times everyday.

 


10. Additional Tips for Treating a Stiff Neck at Home:

 

  1. Whenever you get a stiff neck, avoid strenuous activities for the first couple of days to speed up the healing process.
  2. Make it a habit to sit and walk in the right posture.
  3. Take frequent breaks during your workday and do simple neck exercises.
  4. Use proper training techniques when working out.
  5. Invest in a proper pillow and mattress to prevent straining the muscles.
  6. Take foods rich in Magnesium as this mineral salt helps tense muscles recover faster.
  7. Lastly, consult your doctor if the pain does not subside after 2 days as this could indicate a potentially fatal condition.