The cures for a stiff neck will usually depend on what is causing the pain. Some of the causes of a stiff neck can be very minor and will require simple treatments such as stretching, rest, or painkilling medication, while other causes are more severe and may require a doctor's attention. It helps to start with easy cures for a stiff neck, such as rest and immobilization, and if those don't work, think about more intense treatments. If the pain becomes extreme, or if other symptoms such as a loss of motor control accompany the pain, see a doctor immediately.
Many stiff necks are caused by overuse or improper use of the neck muscles. Sitting at a computer for long periods of time with the head held in an improper position, for example, can lead to stiffness in the neck and shoulders. In this case, one of the best cures for a stiff neck is movement; it helps to get out of the chair and away from the computer periodically, and looking in various directions every so often will prevent excess strain on the muscles. Regular stretching exercises can help prevent injuries in the long term as well.
More severe stiff neck causes may require medical attention. A herniated disc, for example, will sometimes require immobilization using a brace or physical therapy to help restore mobility. In the most severe cases, various surgeries may be cures for a stiff neck, though these are usually reserved for only the most severe cases in which the stiffness worsens or does not abate after time. Nerve compression or damage is another reason surgery may be used, but surgery risks further damage to nerves and other sensitive tissues in and around the neck. Doctors will generally exhaust all other potential cures for a stiff neck before exploring surgery as an option.
Stiff necks can also be caused by direct traumas or other injuries from sports or physical activities. If this occurs, resting and icing the affected area is advised. If the condition persists, a trip to the doctor may be in order, as a muscle tear or strain may have occurred. Fractures of the vertebrae may also lead to stiffness and nerve damage. Anti-inflammatory medications can be used to reduce swelling, and painkillers can reduce discomfort. Immobilization of the neck and head may be required in the event of a neck fracture, or a severe muscle strain.