Neck pain or a stiff neck is a common problem and usually gets better after a few days. You can get a painful or stiff neck if you sleep in an awkward position, sit in a draught, from a sports injury that strains the neck, poor posture e.g. slouching while viewing the computer monitor, excessive stress which can lead to tension in the neck, holding the neck in a strange position for a long period such as cradling a phone between neck and shoulder.
A stiff neck is characterized by soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head to the side. The discomfort may also be accompanied by a headache, neck pain, shoulder pain and/or arm pain. Here are some natural self-help ways to ease your discomfort:
- Rhus tox
Herbs and essential oils
- A warm bath with rosemary, juniper, lavender or pine essential oils
- Devils’ claw (anti-inflammatory)
- Arnica as a homoeopathic remedy or a cream
- Cook and prepare the dried herbs of St Johns Wort, valerian root or vervain as a warm compress and use on the muscle or wrap the wet herbs in an old pillowcase and press on the muscle.
- Apply fresh horseradish to the muscle to relieve stiffness for a couple of minutes.
- Boswellin is the extract of the herb Boswellia, used in Ayurvedic medicine and available in capsule form and may be useful for generalized inflammatory conditions.
- Glucosamine sulphate
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids
- GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) from Evening Primrose Oil
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C with flavonoids
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
- The specific fats in your diet affect the way the body makes prostaglandins, hormones that regulate inflammation. Some prostaglandins intensify the inflammatory response while others reduce it. To help your body reduce inflammation eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils and all foods that contain trans-fatty acids. Instead, use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily, cold-water fish, flaxseeds or oil, and walnuts.
- Skip all of the omega-6 cooking oils and instead use olive oil, rich in omega-9 fatty acids. The omega-9s are anti-inflammatory, and they enhance the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fish oils. A practical example would be a salmon fillet baked in a pan coated with olive oil.
- Remedial/sports massage
- Alexander Technique
- Aromatherapy massage
- Imagery (relaxation, pain management)
- CBT (stressful thinking leading to physical tension)
Heat and exercise
- Heat relaxes muscles. In between using ice packs to numb the pain and reduce inflammation, use heat through heat pads or warm compresses to bring fresh blood to the area and make your pain dissipate quickly.
- Stretching exercises increase blood circulation and relieves tension in muscles. Point your chin with the neck stretched upward and hold for 5 seconds, return to the normal position and relax a while, repeat about 5 times.