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How to Soothe a Stiff Neck

Use a heating pad or take a warm epsom salt bath. A warm bath with epsom salt–a mineral comprised of magnesium and sulfate–helps soothe aching muscles and replenish your body’s level of magnesium. Magnesium also helps produce serotonin, a monoamine neurotransmitter that helps the body (and aching muscles) relax.


Apply topical analgesic. Over-the-counter analgesics such as Icy Hot and Ben-Gay are high in menthol and methylsalicylate, which produces an alternating sensation of cold and heat treatment for the sore area.

Massage your neck. A friend, professional, or even you can gently massage the area on the neck experiencing pain or soreness to alleviate minor neck pain.

Sleep on a contour pillow (or no pillow at all). A contour pillow made of viscoelastic urethane foam or low-resilience polyurethane foam, also known as “memory foam,” can help prevent overextension of the neck and shoulder muscles while sleeping. During the period of soreness, it is advisable that you try and sleep on your back, especially on a pillow that supports the neck without applying too much pressure. Medical experts also advise patients that received neck trauma to sleep without a pillow for a few days in order to prevent unnecessary strain on the lower neck and shoulders.

If symptoms of a stiff neck do not subside after one week, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A stiff neck, if accompanied by high fever, vomiting, or headaches, may be a sign of meningitis—a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Stiff necks are also potential signs of cervical herniated disks or cervical osteoarthritis, and should receive treatment as soon as possible.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.