Authored by Douglas Mefford in Health
Published on 04-25-2009
While it seldom indicates a severe illness, a stiff, sore neck can still make your life a misery until it has been worked out and made to feel normal again. Stiff neck muscles can be caused by a variety of situations of which not all are physiological. Stress has been shown to be a major contributor to that ache that creeps into the spine just below your skull. Before you spend a fortune at a chiropractor, try a few of these tried and true methods of easing your pain in the neck.
The simplest method of trying to rid yourself of a sore neck is to take a hot shower. Allow the water stream to massage along your shoulder and neck muscles for a while. The combination of gentle pressure and deep heat will often loosen up the knots in the neck muscles. A rolled up towel, dampened in hot water and wrung out can also be draped over the shoulders around the base of the neck to lend some hot, moist, deep heat to the muscles and relax the tension in the neck muscles.
A gentle neck-roll exercise is also a good way to recover the flexibility in your neck. Even if the soreness causes you pain at first, lift your head up and then lower your chin to your chest. Bring your head back up and lay it over towards first one shoulder and then the other. After this, do a complete head roll, allowing it to bend as far as your range allows. Doing this a few times can help relieve some of the stiffness.
When you are working in a job that tends to hold your head stiff and still, doing these neck-roll exercises several times an hour will help be a preventative measure that keeps the tension from developing into painful muscles and a headache. A simple, exaggerated shrug done slowly several times in a row can also help.
There are other preventative methods to help remedy the situation that causes neck pain. By avoiding cold drafts, especially among older folk, you can avoid one of the causes of neck stiffness. Keeping the shock absorbers of your vehicle in good repair will also help prevent your head’s supporting structure and muscles from being jarred about so much as to cause a recurring pain.
The position you sleep in at night is another major factor in whether you will awake refreshed or in agony. A pillow that properly supports your head and neck will eliminate many problems with a sore neck. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if you can. This position places a lot of strain on the cervical nerves and the neck and spine muscles.
One should be aware, however, that neck pain that continues or worsens over a day’s time and seems to contribute to drowsiness, fever, confusion of the mind or acerbates headaches, especially if the pain spreads into the arms or causes numbness, can indicate a slipped disk or even the early warning signs of meningitis. Under these circumstances it is critical to seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible.