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Relieve neck pain and stiffness at the first sign of discomfort

Kathy Gruver, PhD Host of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and author of three books on health Alternative Medicine Cabinet

We’ve all had it happen, you wake up unable to turn your head or you sneeze and realize you can’t move. Maybe it’s the result of a car accident or fall. It’s a pain in the neck. Literally, it’s a pain in the neck. Here is some advice that may help.


Do try to rub it out

Massage is one of the best modalities for neck pain. Sometimes it’s simply an issue of the muscles being in spasm and as soon as you can relax them, the range of motion increases and the pain goes away. Make sure you go to a qualified, trained practitioner, not all therapists are the same. Discount is not better when you’ve had an injury.

Do see a chiropractor

Sometimes it’s not just muscular, but skeletal. Bones can easily go out (sublux) in our neck leaving us stiff and unable to move. If you don’t have a chiropractor, ask for a referral from a friend or co-worker. There are a few different types of chiropractors from non-force to the “bone crackers.” Find what works best for you and take advantage of the relief.

Do heat and ice

If you can’t get to a massage therapist or chiropractor right away, do some self-care with heat and ice. In an acute phase, ice is better to decrease swelling and inflammation. Heat is good for muscle tension, but don’t do it if there is bruising or swelling.

Do think about the emotional components

There is a vast connection between the mind and body. We joke about someone being a pain in our necks but I’ve seen it actually affect our health. Try to identify the stressor/person and find a different way to deal with it. Don’t forget the physical treatments too, but don’t discount the emotions.

Do lessen your stress

Stress causes muscle tension, which leads to a stiff neck, jaw tension and headaches. Remember that we can’t control our stress, but we can control our reaction to it.


Do not hold the phone up to your ear

Contorting our bodies into abnormal positions is terrible for our necks and other body parts. One of the worst offenders is cradling the phone between our ear and shoulder. Especially now that phones are so small, we can do some good damage to our bodies. Invest in a headset or Bluetooth and bank on your health.

Do not ignore neck pain

Neck pain, especially if accompanied by a headache or fever can be a sign of a serious illness. If it doesn’t go away or it gets worse, go see a doctor ASAP.

Do not overdo the pain meds

Pain meds, though sometimes really appreciated aren’t typically going to fix the underlying problem. Pain is a signal from the body that something is wrong. By all means we don’t want to live in pain, but relying on pain medication without getting to root cause isn’t healthy either. Take the minimum you need to function, but investigate the underlying cause and deal with it for a truly pain-free body.

Do not overindulge

Alcohol, though it can be celebratory and relaxing, is notorious for causing a headache and neck pain. Taking the hair of the dog that bit you is not going to help. Watch your alcohol intake and make sure you take in a bunch of water. Dehydration, sometimes from alcohol, is hard on the muscles. Extra water will keep your muscles more supple.

Do not wait too long for treatment

Take care of the problem as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem can grow. Once muscles are used to the tightness or the bones are out of alignment, the harder it is for them to go back and stay in place. Treat ASAP and don’t forget to consult your physician if the neck pain is accompanied by a headache and/or fever.

Jumping cartoon

Hopefully your “pains in the neck” are few and far between, but if you face this common obstruction, these tips can help. Don’t forget to deal with the problem as soon as you can, try massage and chiropractic and get the MD if things get bad.

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Kathy Gruver, PhDHost of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and author of three books on health

Dr. Kathy Gruver is the host of the national TV show based on her first award winning book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and has earned her PhD in Natural Health. Kathy was featured on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act in 2011 speaking...

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