How to Relieve a Stiff Neck

It may well be simply the body’s reaction to poor treatment, such as draft from an open car window or a less than ideal pillow. If so, home treatment should suffice. If there is a more severe underlying cause, you should see a doctor.

To get rid of the headache (which you almost certainly have at this point, as just about the only way a layperson can notice a thoracic spine block is after it has caused a headache), feel free to take one of the milder over-the-counter painkillers. Even if you generally avoid medication, soldiering through the pain would stress your body more than, say, one or two ibuprofens’ worth of deleterious effects on the intestinal mucosa.

Warmth, Massage or Exercise

What's next? At least one of the following three home remedies should usually help.

The easiest option is to warm up the tender area. Gel packs work well for this: Heat them to 40-60 degrees Celsius (100-140 F) in hot water or a microwave. Before applying, don’t forget to wrap them in something to avoid scalding yourself. If you have an electric blanket, that works just as well. If you lack either, you can use a hot towel – the traditional way to prepare one is to roll it up, pour hot water into the center, and let it seep outward. Again, be careful not to scald yourself.

Another possibility is a massage: Vigorously rub your shoulder and / or neck with an open palm as if working dough. Or, if you can locate a point source for the pain, try repeatedly pressing it with your thumb.

Experts say that there is no one exercise that would be guaranteed to relieve a stiff neck. However, one that often works is to alternate tilting the head left and right, up and down, and rolling it in a circle.

If none of this helps and / or your headache persists, you should see a doctor or a physical therapist.

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