Should You Put Heat On A Stiff Neck?

Neck Pain Relief Stiff neck suffers, will hear conflicting advice on whether you should put cold or put heat on a stiff neck.

And, it really depends on whether the sore neck is an acute problem or a chronic one. A general rule of thumb is to ice for acute pain and heat for chronic pain.

Heat will increase blood flow when applied to the skin so can be invaluable for treating chronic neck pain and poorly healed neck injuries.

Waking up with a stiff neck caused during sleep process

A stiff neck often caused by sleeping in a draft or awkward position will also benefit from the application of heat. As heat penetrates the painful area, blood circulation increases due to the dilation of blood vessels. This increase in blood flow reduces inflammation, brings extra oxygen and carries away waste and toxins. As this process takes place, pain will reduce.

Heat should not be used on an acute neck injury or where discoloration or swelling is present as it may increase internal bleeding.

Water is a more effective heat conductor than air and the neck can tolerate moist heat at a temperature higher than that of dry heat. Many people use hot water bottles for neck pain relief. The bottle should be half filled and the excess air removed helping it conform more easily to the body. The temperature should be checked to make sure it isn’t too hot and wrapping a towel or cover around it will make it safer and more comfortable.

A hot shower with the shower head directed on the painful area can also provide relief for stiff neck. While soaking in a hot tub is traditionally a method for soothing aches and pains, lying in a tub does not promote good neck posture.

Products On The Market Aimed At Relieving Stiff Neck

There are a variety of products on the market designed to give neck pain relief. Specialized neck wraps containing gel can be heated by using a microwave or by soaking in boiling water for a set period. These wraps are designed to prevent burning and mould to the contours of the neck for maximum pain relief.

Herbal neck wraps, containing spices and herbs such as ginger, black pepper and juniper berries can be heated in a microwave and will dispense moist heat and the relaxing properties of the herbs.

Neck roll pillows, providing a contour that supports the natural cervical spine curvature can be found with optional non-toxic heat pack inserts. Made from memory foam these pillows mould around the neck and retain heat.

Electrical heating pads are also available and mould well to body contours due to  flexibility. They can cause irritation or burning if set too high and if you fall asleep. And, some electric heating pads may use dry heat, it is best to purchase models with moist heating pads for soothing penetrating heat.

There are a number of topical products designed to create heat on painful areas. Some may cause a numbing sensation and prevent the patient from feeling exactly how hot they are. Products such as Deep Heat containing menthol can be used with caution if applied to cool skin as they have been known to create a burning sensation when the skin is warm.

Some herbal-based products are gentler on the skin and if applied after using heat therapy will penetrate deeper through the skin.

Heat is a useful medium in relieving neck pain as long as it is used carefully and safely. So, go ahead- use heat on that stiff neck.

Therapeutic Pillows Good Spine Alignment

Therapeutic pillows

Sleep Joy ViscoFresh Memory Foam

Therapeutic pillows for sleeping that keep good spine alignment is a smart step to preventing neck pain and stiffness when you wake up. When selecting a pillow, not only comfort should be considered, but also consider whether it can provide proper support for the neck and spine to prevent damage and aggravation of any existing problems.

Good posture is essential through both day and night and using a suitable pillow will reduce pressure on the head and neck and keep the body in the correct spine alignment throughout the night. It is useful to have a pillow which can be adjusted to suit individual shape and curvature.

Therapeutic Pillows Reduce Head Pressure

A pillow should mold to your shape to relieve pressure points and maintain a suitable height of 4 to 6 inches to properly support the head and neck. Any higher and it can create a muscular strain on the back of the neck and shoulders when sleeping on the back and side.

Suitable therapeutic pillows should be firm and offer support. Fillings such as cotton, wool and memory foam offer good support, while feather pillows, however romantic, can be too soft. Grain or buckwheat pillows are very effective and comfortable when used for people with spinal conditions.

Support Pillow, White, Allergy-Free

Body length pillows are useful for those who sleep on their sides as they support the head and neck as well as the legs and knees at the same time. These pillows give greater comfort than using separate pillows. They also offer abdominal support for pregnancy or obesity, preventing the abdomen from lying on the mattress and twisting the spine out of alignment.

Clinton Positioning Pillow, Wedge, 18 x 24 x 6, Cream

Pillows supporting the knees are often wedge shaped and designed to relieve neck and back pressure. When lying on the back the pillow should sit under the knees to reduce pressure on the lower back. When lying on the side, the pillow should sit between the knees, preventing the uppermost leg from rotating downwards and twisting the spine.

Therapeutic Pillows Support The Neck

Orthopedic or neck pillows are shaped to fill the spaces under the head and neck and provide a deeper depression where the head lies than conventional pillows. This gives extra support to the neck, and helps with proper spine alignment, and provides both comfort and relief to those with existing neck injuries.

Jobri Travel Memory Pillows,

“U” shaped travel pillows fit snugly round the neck and offer support when sleeping upright, preventing the head from tipping to one side and relieving the muscles that keep the head up.

Lower back or lumbar support pillows are useful when sitting for long periods, filling the gap between the lower spine and the back of the chair and preventing the spine from slouching. Also useful when driving or as a passenger in a car, they support the lumbar region and aid the spinal shock absorbing ability by keeping it in correct alignment.

Careful choosing of the right types of therapeutic pillows for individual needs will ensure that the body is given the opportunity to rest the best way it can and in a correct spine alignment position, essential for good health and comfortable sleep.

How Long Do You Leave Ice On A Stiff Neck?

ice for neck pain Using ice is a cheap effective way to relieve stiff neck pain. Known as cryotherapy by the medical profession it is a useful tool when tissue is damaged and/or inflamed. It is a natural analgesic with the ability to numb nerve endings, slowing metabolic activity and constricting capillaries.

Ice is commonly used during the initial stages of minor neck injury or stiffness when the skin may be red and hot, sensitive to the touch or there may be swelling. It is also helpful with chronic overuse injuries and inflammatory arthritis.

Ice is a short- term solution and may stimulate minor tissue healing processes. If used carefully it can bring almost instant relief from pain. Care must be taken however not to damage the tissue with prolonged use of ice causing frostbite. So, it is important to know how long to leave ice on a stiff neck. And the answer is- it depends. It depends on the type of ‘ice’ you use.

Gel Packs for Cryotherapy And Neck Pain

Gel ice packs and bags can provide cold relief quickly. Ice cups; such as the CRYOCUPÔ provide bare ice applied directly to the skin, melting water into crevices, which conducts heat away from the skin. Ice cubes held in a dishtowel can be effective for small areas even bags of frozen peas also give good results on larger areas.

Medical ice packs which are crushed to activate, can be convenient though not as effective as raw ice. Those with cold-sensitivity may find raw ice too uncomfortable and should use covered ice packs, using a dish cloth or similar if a homemade ice pack is being used.

If deeper tissues require healing then gentler, slower cooling is required and this is where ice packs rather than raw ice are more suitable.

There are specialized cryotherapy devices, often found in sports injury clinics that use a cooler, water and a pad applied to the skin. When this eventually warms, the device can be reactivated to cool the pad down.  These are safe to leave on the skin due to the warming effect.

Using Straight Ice for Neck Pain

The rule of thumb for safety when using raw ice is when the skin becomes numb it is time to stop.

It is important to keep moving raw ice in a steady pattern over the inflamed area. Massage for 1-3 minutes or until it is numb then let the tissue warm up. Once it has warmed up the process can be repeated as often as required.

Tissue damage only occurs after sustained use, long after the skin has gone numb. When the signs of injury begin to fade, the icing process should be discontinued.

When using covered ice packs, these can be reapplied as many times as your neck pain requires, for 48-72 hours or until the inflammation is reduced. Once again, if the skin begins to numb, remove the pack and allow the tissues to warm up. One last warning- it is important not to fall asleep when using an ice pack.

Severe Neck Stiffness and Pain

Severe Neck Stiffness Severe neck stiffness affects many people due to too much tension and stress on the job, long hours sitting in front of a computer, injury, poor posture and a too-soft a mattress. This condition affects a lot of people in the age group of 20 to 40 years old.

Stiffness may not be a severe problem but it can certainly be annoying. If not treated, it may lead to any other complications like shoulder pain, back pain, anxiety and depression.

There are a lot of stiff neck remedies to choose from but the effectiveness depends on the severity and cause of the neck pain.

Simple Steps to Reduce Severe Neck Stiffness

Improve your posture. A poor posture places too much stress on the neck, shoulder and back muscles.

Work at an eye level. If you experience neck discomfort after the end of a workday, it is possible that your work habits can cause this condition. It is recommended that you need to keep your work at eye level.

Adjust the height of the desk, chair and computer to a more comfortable position. When reading books, it is best to use an upright stand. Use ladders when reaching materials.

Your mattress and pillow. Checking your mattress and pillow is the easiest way to relieve pain. An old and soft pillow can lead to stiff neck since the muscles are not supported well.

Remember that you are spending almost half of your life in bed, so it is important to make sure that your neck is comfortable and well rested.

Simply a massage. Massage is also the best way to treat severe neck stiffness and pain. Although the relief may just be temporary, it can still give you comfort even for a short period of time. The massage can be done by you or by a qualified massage therapist.

Say goodbye to stress. In today’s fast moving world, nothing is easy. Stress often causes the muscles to tighten, resulting in muscle problems and pain. When you are in too much stress, the neck muscles work two times harder to keep your neck upright.

When you are stressed, it can cause damage to your mind and body. So, it is important for you to learn self-help techniques to cope up with stress. These relaxation techniques will surely play a huge part in keeping your body and mind relax.

Although you know that stressful situations are inevitable, and near impossible to avoid however, learning how to prevent negative coping responses will keep your neck pain and stress-free.

Medications and Muscle Relaxants for Severe Neck Stiffness

 This kind of stiff neck pain remedy should only be viewed as short term and just to give temporary relief. Pain medications will just mask the problem but not resolve it.  Muscle relaxants will just give temporary muscle relaxation but it will not fix the underlying cause.

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Whiplash Symptoms

symptoms can and often manifest as an injury that happens to a person’s neck after an abrupt force of acceleration and deceleration that occurs in incidents such as car accidents. This is one of the many possible neck pain causes that can happen.

Most people who have been in a motor vehicle accident can make healing progress rapidly without the presence of chronic whiplash symptoms. However, there are still others who may feel the symptoms for years.

   Acute and Chronic Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash is categorized into two categories- acute whiplash and chronic whiplash. Acute whiplash happens when there is an abrupt hyper-extension, hyper-flexion or  rotation of the neck that causes you to experience neck pain and stiff neck. Chronic whiplash occurs when the symptoms continue for so long, approximately for six months and more after an acute whiplash.

What Causes Whiplash?

The most common cause of whiplash is probably car accidents. Especially in those involving rear-end collisions. The impact when two vehicles crash creates a force that causes the neck and head to hyperextend, or bends forward, as the torso is pushed forward. After this, the head and neck then falls backward, placing it in a hyper-flexed position. 

Whiplash symptoms include: tenderness on the back of the neck, inflammation of the neck, headaches, restricted movement in the neck, neck pain and stiff neck.

Diagnosing Whiplash Symptoms

After an accident, the person may taken to the hospital for further examination. The health care provider will then assess if there are injuries needed to be treated. X-rays of the neck are obtained to give a clear picture for any serious injuries.

If the x-ray is normal but the person still experiences whiplash symptoms such as neck pain, a doctor will order a cervical collar to be worn to relief the strain on the neck. After a few weeks of using the cervical collar, the doctor may perform additional tests, x-rays or an MRI scan. The MRI scan can detect injuries to the tissues which cannot be detected by x-rays.

Treatment of Whiplash Symptoms

The first treatment for a whiplash is the use of a cervical collar. The collar reduces the movements of the neck, thus preventing further injuries.

But there are studies shown that immobilization will slow down the healing of the neck. Patients who undergo early exercises may rapidly improve and soon alleviate the symptoms. These kind of exercises are usually done for about 10 times in an hour.

One of the most common of whiplash symptoms is stiff neck or neck pain which can be extremely uncomfortable. However, there are stiff neck remedies that could help ease the pain. Typically, the first pain medication ordered are over-the-counter drugs. 

Another common treatment ordered is temperature therapy. Temperature therapy is done by placing hot and cold compresses alternately on the neck. The heat will reduce the inflammation of the muscles and the cold compress keeps the muscles relaxed.

Another effective treatment is by performing a neck self-massage by rubbing your hands together to keep it warm then place it on the back of your neck. Do this procedure several times day to help your whiplash symptoms.