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How do I Treat a Sore Neck?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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A stiff or sore neck is a fairly common problem, due in large part to the way people spend their days sitting at a desk or in a car. Before you decide to treat a sore neck yourself, it is always a good idea to get it checked out by a medical professional, especially if the pain is persistent or severe. Otherwise, a solution as simple as switching to a different pillow may be an effective way to treat a sore neck.

A sore neck can be caused by a number of things, such as sleeping on an improper pillow, practicing poor posture while standing or sitting at a desk all day, cradling a phone between your shoulder and ear, and spending time with your neck at a strange angle, as at a movie or sporting match. Remaining stressed and tense for a long period of time can cause neck pain as well. It is important to treat a sore neck as soon as it occurs, to prevent the pain from getting worse or causing headaches and other muscle tension.

To treat a sore neck, begin by massaging the area where the pain seems to be centered. You can do this yourself, or have someone do it for you. Begin with gentle pressure to prevent causing more pain. Heat applied to the area also often helps relieve pain, such as a heating pad or even standing in a hot shower or taking a bath.

Taking pain relievers will also help relieve the pain of a sore neck, though they will not treat the source of the problem. If possible, lay down in a comfortable position with the neck supported. This will allow the muscles to relax. If your sore neck is caused by stress, some simple solutions such as deep breathing or taking a break to go for a walk may be beneficial.

Changing your behavior can have a great impact when trying to treat a sore neck. If your neck always hurts when you get out of bed in the morning, try to find a new pillow that allows you to sleep without placing your neck at an angle; it should remain right in line with your spine. When working at a desk, be sure the armrests of your chair are at a proper height that is comfortable, and if possible, get up and stretch at intervals throughout the day. When standing, practice good posture by trying to center the head over the shoulders; when the head leans forward slightly over the chest, it puts a heavy strain on the muscles of the neck. Before long, your pain in the neck will be a thing of the past.

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