Neck stiffness and inflammation can occur as the result of damage to the nerves, muscles, vertebrae or discs of the neck. You might have trouble moving your neck to one side or, if nerves are damanged, you might experience tingling, numbness or weakness in your arm or hand. You can get a stiff neck from poor posture, traumatic injury, working long hours at a desk or in front of a computer, sleeping in an uncomfortable position or poor body mechanics while exercising. Although traditional medical treatment for stiff neck can include a prescription for a pain killer or anti-inflammatory drug, consider natural remedies to help relieve your neck pain. If pain persists, however, see a doctor.
Several anti-inflammatory herbs can help relieve discomfort caused by a stiff neck. According to Herbal Remedies World, turmeric and ginger are two common spices that might help reduce inflammation. You can take these herbs in capsule or tablet form or simply apply them liberally to your food during cooking. Also consider trying boswellin, arnica, devil's claw, licorice or white willow. Bromelain, a naturally occurring enzyme found in pineapple, can also help reduce your inflammation symptoms.
Certain complementary and alternative therapies can help treat and prevent your neck pain and stiffness. Consider chiropractic therapy, which can help realign any neck vertebrae that have shifted out of place with poor posture or traumatic injury. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medical treatment, might help reduce inflammation and pain associated with a stiff neck. You might also find relief with regular physical therapy, massage or craniosacral therapy treatments.
Try some stretching exercises that may help retrain your body to maintain a healthful posture, which could help reduce and prevent neck stiffness and inflammation. Perform a chest stretch: Face the wall, lift one hand up against the wall with your elbow bent to the side and slowly turn your body away from the wall. Feel the stretch in your chest, hold for a few seconds and switch to the other side. For another helpful stretch, stand with your back and head against the wall and put one hand behind you towards your opposite side. Breathe in as you slowly lower your other arm down towards your knee and tilt your head down towards that side. Feel the stretch along your side, hold for a few seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Consult with your doctor prior to trying natural remedies for a stiff neck. When choosing to use chiropractic, acupuncture or other therapies, obtain a reputable referral from your doctor or health department for a licensed practitioner in your area, preferably one who specializes in neck pain. Avoid using these or other natural remedies as a replacement for conventional medical treatment when necessary.
Lindsay Staker is an Oriental medicine practitioner who specializes in treating infertility, women's health and pregnancy. She utilizes more than 15 years experience in the healthcare field including background as a midwife and has a master's degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.