What to do for a stiff neck?

Jan 07, 2023
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If you're suffering from a stiff neck, there are a few simple things you can try at home to alleviate the discomfort.

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Apply heat or cold to the affected area. If your neck is sore from muscle strain, applying heat for 10-15mins can help to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area. A heating pad or warm shower can be effective. On the other hand, applying cold can help to reduce pain and numb the area. Use a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel.  Prolonged (longer than 10mins) cold therapy can actually have reverse effects so keep cold therapy limited, when in doubt use heat.

2.  Take over-the-counter pain medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Follow the instructions on the packaging and do not exceed the recommended dosage.  Speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any medication.

3.  Stretch and massage the muscles. Gently stretching and massaging the neck muscles can help to loosen them and improve flexibility. Try tilting your head from side to side while applying pressure to the muscles, or gently massaging the muscles with your fingertips up and down as well as side to side.  If you have had a recent injury (less than 1-2 weeks ago) DO NOT massage painful or tender regions.

3.  Maintain good posture. Poor posture can contribute to neck pain, so make sure you're sitting and standing up straight. Keep your computer screen at eye level, and use a comfortable chair with good lumbar (low back) support, yes supporting your lower back can help your neck pain!  From a side view, your ear should be in alignment with your shoulder.

4.  Get plenty of rest. It's important to allow your body time to heal, so try to get plenty of rest and avoid activities that might strain your neck.  Keeping your head in a neutral alignment while sleeping is very important, which means avoiding stomach sleeping as well as using more than one pillow.

It's worth noting that while these suggestions may provide temporary relief, it's always a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional if your neck pain persists or is severe. They can help to diagnose the cause of the pain and recommend more specific treatment options.


Mayo Clinic. (2021). Neck pain. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/neck-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050800

WebMD. (2021). Neck pain: Relief for a sore neck. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/neck-pain-relief-sore-neck#1