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A stiff neck with pain and difficulty with moving is often the result of strain of one

Author:   Time:2012-3-13 14:10:36
The muscle most often involved with a stiff neck is the levator scapula which connects the neck and shoulder.

The most usual complaint of a "stiff neck" is pain when trying to turn the head to the side where it hurts, often turning the body instead of the neck to look behind. It is often associated with a headache but not always.

The most common causes for developing this kind of stiff neck are; turning the head to one side while typing, long phone calls without a headset, sleeping without proper pillow support with the neck tilted or rotated, sitting in a chair with armrests too high and exposure of the neck to a cold draft. There are other causes basically from shortening of this muscle as illustrated with using a cane that is too long.

Activities such as vigorous tennis, swimming the crawl stroke and watching a tennis match rotating the head back and forth can also cause a stiff neck. Additionally, stress as in "the weight of the world on my shoulders" or a tense, hostile or aggressive postures may contribute.

How to treat a stiff neck. Knowing some of the causes of a stiff neck can lead to prevention in many cases. A good method of self treatment is to use heat for neck pain relief and self massage to ease some of the tension. For massage, be careful not to strain while reaching back. The areas to massage are the "X"s in the upper right of the diagram and can be reached without strain by using a back massager. Other areas of muscle strain may be associated with a stiff neck and headache which should also be given the proper attention. Be sure to use a supportive neck pillow and become familiar with proper neck posture. Learn techniques of stress reduction such as breathing exercises to help reduce tension and headache.

A method I use to stretch the muscle is to stand underneath a hot shower with the water on the neck. In the example illustrated with the right side involved, reach behind your back and hold the right wrist with the left hand, slightly pull the right arm down and bend the head to the left and then turn it to the left and hold for 20 seconds. The movement should be small and only produce a mild discomfort. Repeat the procedure as needed. An alternative method to the shower would be to use a hot pack that covers the neck and shoulder.

There is an acupressure point for neck pain relief often used for a stiff neck in oriental medicine. This may be effective when used with some of the products with healing herbs and may compliment other methods described here.

There are many causes of a "stiff neck" and we have covered one of the most common causes and some methods of how to treat a stiff neck, however, if one persists despite judicious home treatment methods, always consult your health care provider.

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