Treatments for a Stiff Neck

Ten Treatments for a Stiff Neck

A stiff neck can make it difficult to drive, sleep and work. Your neck muscles are sensitive and can become inflamed from simple things such as poor posture or sleeping in an uncomfortable position. If you are suffering from a stiff neck you are likely looking for immediate relief. Here are ten treatments to help you ease your stiffness as quickly and easily as possible.

Gentle stretching

Stretching your neck can help loosen stiff muscles and tendons. Make sure that you keep breathing and stand up straight. Slowly turn your head to the left as far as possible without pain and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly return back to center and then do the same thing but slowly turning to the right. Do five to ten sets depending on what is comfortable for you. If you are able, you can also slowly lower your left ear towards your left shoulder and softly roll your head forward in a circular motion to the other shoulder. Do five to ten repetitions of this on each side. These stretches can help loosen tension in your neck and improve your flexibility.

Over-the-counter medications

Common over-the-counter pain relievers include Aleve, Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Each has a different primary active ingredient and your pain reliever of choice will depend on what is causing your neck pain as well as your overall health. For instance, if you have liver problems, your doctor may recommend that you stay away from acetaminophen, which is the generic name for Tylenol. These medications not only aim to relieve your pain but can also reduce inflammation.

Alternating heat and ice

This stiff neck treatment may be older and well known but it has stood the test of time. When you initially feel pain you should start by applying ice for the first day or two. By applying ice, you decrease the blood flow to the area which can decrease swelling and inflammation. After the initial 48 hours, you can start applying a heating pad or compress to the strained area. Heat increases blood flow and helps your muscles relax. It is a common treatment for chronic pain sufferers. Use each type of treatment for no more than 20 minutes and never put the heat or cold source directly on your skin.


A professional massage can loosen tight muscles and joints as well as improve flexibility and range of motion. There are many different types of massage and it is important that you communicate where your discomfort is located and how severe it is to your massage therapist. He or she will discuss with you the best type of massage to help relieve your discomfort.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a popular alternative to surgical or invasive procedures. It uses massage, exercise, heat and electrical stimulation to strengthen the patient’s muscles and improve posture and range of motion. Physical therapy is designed to improve long term functionality and strength.


A chiropractor makes gentle adjustments to the patient’s neck and spine to put them in proper alignment. The focus of a chiropractor tends to be the neck and spine and adjusting the alignment to alleviate pain and discomfort.


Acupuncture is a centuries old treatment that originated in Chinese medicine. Small needles are inserted into specific parts of the body to stimulate nerves and balance the flow of energy through the body. An acupuncture treatment consists of having needles strategically inserted and sometimes gently manipulated. The needles will typically stay in place for approximately 20 minutes and then gently be removed. Most patients do not feel the needles being placed and may find the process relaxing.


It sounds simple but sometimes the best medicine is rest. Resting takes pressure off of your already tired muscles. In addition, avoiding physical activity and giving your body time to heal can help expedite your recovery.

Change your day to day activities

As you move through your day, there are innumerable opportunities for you to incur neck pain. Whether you lean over a computer screen all day or perform repetitive motions that put undue stress on your neck and spine; it is difficult to avoid straining yourself from time to time. You can greatly reduce your discomfort by addressing your day to day activities as much as possible. This can include creating an ergonomically sound workplace, practicing good posture, and improving your sleep habits. If you tend to sleep in an awkward position, a specially designed neck pillow can give you needed support. Also, grinding your teeth can cause significant pain if left unchecked. Simply wearing a night guard while you sleep can help prevent tooth damage as well as protect your jaw and neck muscles.

Medical interventions such as surgery or injections

If none of the previous options provide the relief you are looking for, there are more invasive medical interventions such as surgery or injections available. These can also be considered in conjunction with the treatments listed above. The appropriateness of these procedures can only be established on a case by case basis with the expertise of a medical professional.

If you are suffering from neck stiffness and pain, contact our office. We will guide you to the best solution and aim to alleviate your discomfort as quickly and thoroughly as possible.