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poofandmook's avatar

I can't loosen up this stiff neck. Any suggestions?

Asked by poofandmook (17212 points ) November 29th, 2011

I’m on day three and I’m going a bit mad.

The bulk of the pain seems to be mostly right under my neck in the very top of my back/shoulders. It hurts most to tip my head back, and leaning forward or looking down (doing dishes in the sink, for example) makes it worse pretty fast.

I’ve been living with a moist heat bag thingie on for the bulk of these three days, I’ve taken Aleve, multiple hot showers, and my boyfriend has tried to massage it. The first day he tried, the muscles hurt to the touch. It’s not so bad now, but it’s still very tender. It feels better with the moist heat on, but as soon as I pop it back in the microwave, everything tightens up again.

I can’t shake it… save going to the doctor, is there anything else I could try?

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26 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Are you holding your breath and tense when getting a massage from the boyfriend?

Try deep breathing and RELAX your body. Do this after a long hot bath, and also, try rolling your upper back and shoulders /neck, across a large pillow on the floor. The rolling motion helps break up the muscle tension. I have a hot tub and this is my remedy, to “roll” my shoulders across the edge along with hot water jets.

You must be relaxed though. Achieving DEEP relaxation is key to muscle tension.

poofandmook's avatar

I may have been tense during the massage because the muscles were painful to the touch.

JLeslie's avatar

Pain tipping forward and back can be a sign of meningitis. If you have any under the weather symptoms be aware.

For typical neck stiffness I suggest rolling a towel to put behind your neck every time you lie down. It should fit nicely under your neck, not a very large towel. It well allow the muscles to relax. Also, take some ibuprofen for a day or two. If you weigh over 130 pounds take 600 mg every six hours with a glass of water and some food, even a cracker/biscuit is enough.

wundayatta's avatar

Try ice. It works for me. I keep an ice pack on the affected area for hours, actually. It usually reduces the pain. I rest. When the pain is down, I have more range of motion.

My chiropractor also taught me a set of exercises that seem to help. I’m not sure if I can describe them properly, so don’t try this at home. They are isometric exercises. The idea is to tire the muscles out so they can’t spasm any more.

What you do is put the heels of your hands on the forehead. Then push your forehead against your hands as hard as you can without hurting yourself. Use your hands to keep your forehead in the same place. Then to the same thing with the back of your head and the sides of your head. On the back, you are holding your head with your fingers, mostly and on the side, you use the palm of one hand.

It’s a good exercise in general. If you remember to do it a few times a day, it strengthens your neck muscles and can help prevent future attacks.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If you must be on the computer, then force yourself to mouse with opposite hand than normal. Does wonders for my back/neck troubles.

poofandmook's avatar

@JLeslie: Other than the fact that I’m always tired, I don’t feel any under-the-weather symptoms. And I wouldn’t call it drowsiness at all.

marinelife's avatar

If it were me, I would try going to the chiropractor and then getting a therapeutic massage.

poofandmook's avatar

@marinelife: I’m rather scared of the chiropractor. I went to one religiously when I was younger with my dad. I loved it. Then he died and his son-in-law took over the practice, severely messed up my dad’s neck, and he was in physical therapy for years afterward. I’m terrified of ending up with another bad one :\

marinelife's avatar

@poofandmook I understand. Mine was an expert who gave exams to other chiropractors. I would think you could get recommendations. If you need an adjustment, your muscles are going to stay spasmed.

The_Idler's avatar

I have a similar problem ALL. THE. TIME. =[ and I was recommended the same exercises as @wundayatta… They seem to make my neck stronger, but I don’t think they really stop the pain happening. It does help straighten out the joints though, so it feels less uncomfortable.

I must try the ice-pack….

augustlan's avatar

You might want to call your doc and see if you can get an Rx for a muscle relaxant.

poofandmook's avatar

now the muscle that’s consistently hurt when the rest loosened up is spasming.

I really can’t afford another trip to the doctor, damn it!

JLeslie's avatar

@poofandmook Did you try ibuprofen? It’s likely a doctor would just give you a prescription dose of it, which you can easily take by just taking 3 or 4 Advil (600–800mg). Remember to take it with a glass off water and some food to protect your tummy, can be just a couple crackers. Ibuprofen reduces inflammation, relaxes the muscle, and helps block the pain.

The_Idler's avatar

I wouldn’t recommend ibuprofen for long-term use, it is extremely irritating to the stomach, not to mention being relatively mediocre in the areas of relaxant and pain-relief.

Most of it’s action is anti-inflammatory, which is great if you have a bruise or wisdom teeth pains, but not really effective in dealing with most musculoskeletal issues (unless it involves swelling).

I think you will need a script for a pharma muscle relaxant, but that really may be all you can do.

Try rubbing peppermint oil in first though, that is supposed to be an anti-spasmodic, and if it saves you a trip to the doc’s and having to swallow a load of chemicals, all the better.

The_Idler's avatar

Let me know how it goes =]

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler Who is talking about long term use? It sounded to me like this is a recent problem he just needs to get past. Maybe I misunderstood. All too often when people complain about not being able to take NSAIDsand Aspirin because it irritates their stomach or caused them to have stomach ulcers and bleeds, when I question them they did not eat with the med. Eating solves a lot of that risk.

marinelife's avatar

@JLeslie Long-term Ibuprofin use leads to kidney problems.

JLeslie's avatar

@marinelife Again, I was not under the impression this question was about long term, I was suggesting it for short term. The OP starts with, I’m on day three…

poofandmook's avatar

I ended up going to a walk-in clinic, as I’m about 60 miles away from my regular doc. I got a shot in each butt cheek and a script for a muscle relaxer. Two nights of the pill and it’s just about completely gone. I feel it slightly when I tip my head all the way back, which is something I couldn’t come anywhere close to doing when I wrote this post. Also, it bothered me a bit last night but I know I was sleeping funny because I woke up in a weird position.

and yes @Brian1946, I’m female lol

JLeslie's avatar

@poofandmook Glad you feel better. Which muscle relaxer did they give you?

poofandmook's avatar

um.. I don’t remember the generic but I believe it was Soma. I could be making that up though lol

JLeslie's avatar

I think Soma is a muscle relaxant. Sometimes it has codeine mixed in I think, depending on what they specifically prescribed. Good to know it was so effective. I haven’t eard the name in a long time.

poofandmook's avatar

actually, I didn’t take it last night, and I’m feeling it more today than I have been. I would love to know what set this off.

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