General Question

occ's avatar

I tweaked the muscles in my neck/upper back. Do I apply heat or cold?

Asked by occ (4179points) March 23rd, 2008

I took a red-eye flight and was sleeping in an uncomfortable position and tweaked the muscles in my neck and upper shoulder. I can’t really move my head right now. Yesterday I applied heat to it and took 2 advil and it got better throughout the day till I barely noticed it at night. Then I woke up this morning and it was much worse. My mother is telling me to apply cold first and then heat, but the cold on my muscles feels worse. Any opinions? And yes, I know I should see a physical therapist but I’m traveling and will be on the road for a week. I need a quick fix because I have important meetings for work and can’t go looking like an immobile robot.

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10 Answers

gooch's avatar

cold for the first twelve hour then hot after that if it is a pulled muscle. In your case it is not so heat is the only answer. Countinue with Advil.
I am an EMT

jrpowell's avatar

I have had a lot of sprained ankles over 20+ years of skateboarding. I was usually told to alternate between the two. When the cold starts to suck switch to heat. When the heat runs out switch to cold and keep repeating. And I would keep taking the Advil. It is a anti-inflammatory and should help. And I would up the dosage. I strained my wrist in a bike accident a few months ago and they suggested taking four at a time 3 times per day to help with the pain and swelling.

I am not a doctor.

scamp's avatar

I agree with gooch. You could aslo try getting a massage to help the muscles to relax a bit.

gailcalled's avatar

Remember to eat something before the Advil drops onto the lining of your stomach. My therapist says to use heat on sprained muscles…you can buy a cheap heating pad w. a thin sheet of foam inside. You dampen the foam, return it to the heating pad and thus get moist heat. 20 minutes at most and then take a breather.

Sorry to welcome you to the club.

row4food's avatar

as a college athlete i spent a good amount of time in the trainer’s room. we did ice for 20 mins, heat for 20 mins, repeat as necessary. if you can stretch at all, that would help to loosen up some muscles. start small, and stretch a little further each time. there will be a little discomfort, but not too much, don’t push it too fast.

i swore by icyHot as a temporary solution, although i wouldn’t suggest going to important work meetings after applying… people will smell you coming from a mile away =P

you can also find patches that you can stick on the area, they aren’t by the icyHot brand. you can find them at CVS in the same section, kind of hidden on the bottom shelf. i can’t remember the name (green and white box, blue writing), but it is cheaper than the name brand, and much less offensive to those around you. (although i rather like the menthol)

good luck.

syz's avatar

Heat works on muscles for me – cold only makes the muscle stiffer and less pliable.

emilyrose's avatar

i was also going to suggest icy hot. but it does smell so wear it when you go to sleep…..

ccatron's avatar

heat is for muscles, to help them relax. ice is for bones to reduce inflammation.

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drmclean's avatar

take a washcloth, run it under hot water, then toss it in the microwave for a few seconds. Also take some pain releiver such as advil or motrin. It should get better with in 2 days.

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