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How to Relieve Stiffness in the Neck
More than 80 percent of Americans will experience some form of chronic back and neck pain in their lives, according to a survey conducted by Newsweek magazine.
Neck tension can be identified by experiencing difficulty in using the full range of motion of your neck. Neck tension makes it difficult to turn your head from side to side, or front to back, or both, and discomfort is usually experienced in the movement. Leaning your head to one side while talking on the phone, sleeping with poor pillow support or engaging in repetitive motions with your neck are some possible causes of neck tension resulting from muscle strain.
An unchecked stiff neck can lead to headaches and fatigue, so you’ll want to take care of it right away. If your neck tension is very painful or chronic, it is best to see your doctor. Let’s look at some of the alternative ways to relieve minor neck tension.
Step 1: Apply heat
According to Mayo Clinic, the use of heat packs can assist in relieving a cramped neck. Heat packs are the least expensive method for treating stiffness in the neck, and the least time-consuming as well. Heat packs can be applied at work or at home. The warmth of the heat pack encourages the muscles to relax, which then releases tension from your neck. If your doctor recommends it, ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, can also be taken along with a home heat pack treatment. It is best to lie down and mentally relax in conjunction with heat pack application to encourage muscle relaxation.
Step 2: Get a massage
WebMD states that neck and general body tension can be relieved by massage therapy. According the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), over 39 million Americans got a massage in 2006. It is quickly becoming a trusted addition to the alternative health regime.
Dating back to the writings of Hippocrates, massage has a long history of being associated with healthcare. Muscle and tissue manipulation increases blood flow, reduces tension and relaxes both the muscles and the nervous system. Massage is probably the most direct route to take for immediate relief of neck tension and tension headaches.
Gentle manipulation of the neck muscles will allow tension to release instantly. Mayo Clinic agrees that massage can be used to relieve neck tension as well as encourage relaxation. You can look for a licensed massage therapist in your area if you want to try this method.
Step 3: See your chiropractor
According to Mayo Clinic, chiropractic care can be effective in relieving some forms of neck pain. Chiropractic care has ancient roots, as writings from 2700 B.C. mention spinal manipulation as a form of healthcare. Today, chiropractic care is gaining popularity for treating back pain, neck pain and general postural alignment.
Chiropractors manipulate the bones in the neck to release tension for people suffering from neck pain. Most chiropractors believe that misaligned bones can cause tight muscles leading to nerve irritation, which then causes pain. By shifting the position of the bones, pressure is taken off the nerves, relieving neck tension and pain. Chiropractic care can be expensive and scary for a first timer; it is best to consult your doctor for a referral.
Step 4: Try acupuncture
Acupuncture first turned up in the history books over 8,000 years. It was developed as a form of healthcare in ancient China. It involves the placement of very fine needles into certain points of the body for the purpose of increasing blood and energy flow.
Acupuncture uses meridian points to assist the body in natural healing. WebMD discusses the possibility that neck tension develops when the natural flow of energy is blocked to the neck, and suggests that acupuncture might be able to restore the energy flow, thus allowing the release of neck tension. Acupuncture is also used in the treatment of various ailments from digestive issues to headaches. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture can help you find an accredited practitioner in your area.