Do you find it difficult to move your neck?

You might be suffering from a type of neck pain called stiff neck.

A stiff neck is a condition of sore and painful neck that makes it hard to move it sideways [1].

Awkward position during sleeping, poor posture, and use of computer for long hours are some examples of activities that can strain the neck muscles and cause neck stiffness [2, 3].

It can also be caused by inflammation in the neck joint [2].

The problem can go away on its own after a few days, but if you want to get immediate relief, you can try using these scientific based solutions.

1. Lavender Oil

A plant native to the Mediterranean regions, lavender is now grown in the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia, and many other parts of the world [4].

This therapeutic herb has been used for centuries to treat pain and infection as well as induce sedation and relaxation [4].

Iranian researchers evaluated the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of lavender and found positive results, thereby confirming its use in folk medicine for pain and inflammatory diseases such as stiff neck [5].

A separate study noted that lavender extract is beneficial for patients suffering from pain as it also an efficient antinociceptive agent [6].

This means that lavender has the ability to block signal pains from forming in the brain.

It also helps that lavender has soothing effects whether you inhale it or apply it topically.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil
  • 3 drops of lavender oil
  • Hot water

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine lavender and almond oils.
  • Apply mixture on the neck.
  • Massage gently for five to 10 minutes.
  • Repeat remedy once a day until condition improves.
  • Alternatively, soak a towel in a bowl of hot water.
  • Squeeze to get rid of excess water.
  • Pour a few drops of lavender oil.
  • Wait for the towel to cool a little.
  • Wrap it on your neck and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat twice a day until stiff neck is gone.

2. Cold/Heat Therapy

Cold therapy is one of the oldest and most reliable physical treatment methods for pain reduction [7].

Its potent “short-term analgesic effect” has been proven in scientific research, making it useful for painful conditions, even those that affect the musculoskeletal system [7].

It works by blocking signal pains in the brain, reducing muscular spasm and nerve conduction, and preventing inflammation [7].

Heat, meanwhile, has been found to be just as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain and muscle stiffness [8].

Using these two methods is a cost-effective way to put an end to the annoying problem of neck pain.

Just make sure that you don’t apply ice directly on skin, or that the hot compress is not too hot to scald the skin.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bowl of ice cubes
  • 1 hot towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Wrap a towel around the ice cubes.
  • Press this gently on the neck for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat every three to four hours for two days.
  • On the third day, apply hot towel on the neck for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat three to four times a day until you get relief.

3. Peppermint Oil

Famous for its unique flavor, enticing aroma, and amazing health benefits, peppermint has been used in food, cosmetics and medicinal products [9].

Some of its uses include as an anti-inflammatory, carminative, analgesic, stimulant, anti-emetic and anti-ulcer [10].

The active compound in peppermint called menthol can boost threshold for pain by stimulating the cold receptors, and applying analgesic and antinociceptive properties [11].

A study conducted in 2012 confirms that peppermint has analgesic activities [12].

Researchers arrived at this conclusion after testing the effects of peppermint on animal subjects induced with pain and inflammation [12].

Although it did not work to reduce swelling in animal paw edema, it can be a reliable pain reliever for various pain conditions including stiff neck.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 6 drops of peppermint oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Dilute peppermint oil in coconut oil.
  • Apply a thin layer on neck area.
  • Gently massage the skin for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Repeat as needed.

4. Rosemary Oil

Who doesn’t love the scent of rosemary oil?

You’ll love it even more when you find out that it can effectively get rid of pain and stiffness in your neck muscles.

According to the results of an animal study performed in Mexico, rosemary oil can tone down swelling and hinder pain signals in the brain [13].

Scientists performed formalin test and acetic acid-induced writhing test on animal subjects to validate these findings [13].

Similar positive results were obtained from studies dated 2008 and 2013, justifying the folkloric use of rosemary oil for various types of pain problems [14, 15].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 6 drops of rosemary oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Blend two oils in a jar.
  • Apply on the neck.
  • Massage for five to 10 minutes everyday.
  • Repeat remedy twice daily until pain disappears.

5. Massage

Most people get a massage to relax and forget about stress.

Another good reason to engage in touch therapy is to reduce pain.

Massage can do wonders for your stiff neck, as it has been proven to have analgesic effects particularly when combined with cold therapy [16].

Several studies also serve as proof that massage is an excellent way to alleviate different kinds of pain, even for chronic cases [17, 18, 19].

A comprehensive review of 26 clinical trials involving more than 2,500 participants report that massage provides relief for people with osteoarthritis and shoulder pain [17].

It also improves function and mobility among those with knee and back pains [17].

In Poland, scientists did a comparative analysis of deep tissue massage and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) as treatment for low back pain [19].

There was no significant difference between the two treatment methods, indicating that massage worked just as well as medication [19].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Soak in a warm bath or take a steam shower.
  • Apply coconut oil on the neck.
  • Massage for several minutes.
  • Follow remedy once a day.

6. Cayenne Pepper

It might seem counterproductive to apply a spicy substance on something that’s already oozing with pain.

However, cayenne pepper is actually a great remedy for stiff neck and other types of pain conditions.

Cayenne pepper’s main component capsaicin is a “novel analgesic agent” that has been proven successful in treating pain and decreasing inflammation [20, 21, 22].

In a 2000 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers explain that among 200 patients suffering from pain, numbness and burning sensation, those who applied capsaicin topically on affected areas experienced great relief after four weeks [23].

Capsaicin has been found to reduce pain sensitivity with minor side effects [23].

It’s normal to feel a little sting when you apply cayenne pepper on your neck.

If you can’t bear the pain, you can reduce the amount of cayenne pepper or shorten the duration of application.

Do not leave it on longer than the recommended period to avoid skin burning.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of warm olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine ingredients to make a paste.
  • Apply paste on the neck area.
  • Let it sit for three to five minutes.
  • Do this twice a day until pain and stiffness go away.

7. Turmeric

Cultivated and distributed around the world for its medicinal properties, turmeric is a great remedy for diabetic wounds, cough, anorexia, rheumatism, sinusitis and more [24].

Responsible for many of its pharmacological effects is curcumin, which is also what gives turmeric its yellow pigment [24].

If you can no longer tolerate the pain and discomfort caused by stiff neck, you can also rely on turmeric for relief.

After all, it has been recognized in scientific literature as a potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive [25, 26].

The first study was done on animal subjects while the other one was a two-phase experiment done on both humans and mice [25, 26].

All the findings point out that turmeric is not only effective but also safe as a remedy for various pain conditions.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Recommended Directions:

  • Add turmeric powder to milk.
  • In a pan, heat mixture for three minutes.
  • Let it cool.
  • Drink it twice a day for four to five days.

8. Black Cumin

It has been centuries ago when black cumin was first used as a treatment for human ailments but it was only recently that its active compound thymoquinone has been proven effective in scientific research [27].

This herb, which is grown in countries in the Mediterranean region and in Western Asia, is used as a diuretic, stimulant, muscle relaxant, and immunity booster [27].

Scientists from Iran analyzed the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of the essential oil extracted from black cumin [28].

Results show that black cumin oil works well in painful and inflammatory conditions such as stiff neck [28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of black cumin seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two ingredients.
  • Use this mixture to massage the stiff parts of the neck.
  • Repeat remedy once a day until you feel better.

9. Virgin Coconut Oil

What makes virgin coconut oil different from regular coconut oil is that the former is obtained from fresh mature coconut kernel through natural means, which means it did not go through heat or chemical alterations [29].

It is a highly versatile and functional oil that has become increasingly popular in Southeast Asian countries [29].

For your stiff neck problem, virgin coconut oil can provide immediate relief, thanks to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties, as proven in several studies [30, 31].

These studies indicate that this oil can inhibit chronic inflammation and relieve pain effectively [30, 31].

Some say that consuming a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil can also help alleviate this problem.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil
  • 1 hot towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Put virgin coconut oil on hot towel.
  • Wrap this around your neck.
  • Wait for 30 minutes before removing.
  • Repeat remedy once a day until there’s no more pain.

10. Eucalyptus

The countless health benefits of eucalyptus have not gone unnoticed.

Scientists have noted that it is an efficiency treatment for hepatotoxicity, diabetes, inflammatory disorders and even cancer [32].

For minor ailments like stiff neck, eucalyptus can also be your go-to solution.

In 2003, researchers discovered that oil extract from this plant is a strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent [24].

When applied on the skin, eucalyptus leaves a cooling sensation that helps in numbing the pain.

When inhaled, it has soothing effects on the senses that can induce relaxation.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Stir in eucalyptus oil to coconut oil.
  • Apply on the neck area.
  • Massage for five to 10 minutes.
  • Repeat procedure twice a day for one week.

11. Lemongrass Oil

The aromatic oil derived from the lemongrass plant is popularly used in traditional medicine, cosmetics, agricultural businesses and soap industry, among others [25].

Its antinociceptive effects were the subject of a 2000 study performed by Brazilian researchers [26].

Lemongrass oil was administered in mice with acetic acid-induced writhing [26].

Findings reveal that it strongly inhibited the writhing pain, as well as the inflammatory responses [26].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil
  • 1 cup of warm towel

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Put a few drops of the oil blend on your neck area.
  • Soak a towel in warm water.
  • Wring out excess water.
  • Massage gently for five to 10 minutes.
  • Do this remedy two to three times a day for one week.

12. Holy Basil Oil

In India, holy basil has long been used to treat asthma, malaria, diarrhea, skin ailments, eye diseases, insect bites, vomiting and diabetes, among many others [27].

It’s also a proven analgesic that can help relieve pain and discomfort caused by stiff neck.

Several studies have been done to evaluate its efficacy as an analgesic, and some have verified its beneficial effects [28, 29].

Its pain-relieving actions work on both the central and peripheral nervous system, mediating the neurotransmitter systems [29].

Most of holy basil’s therapeutic properties are due to the presence of eugenol [27].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of holy basil oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Dilute holy basil oil in almond oil.
  • Mix well.
  • Pour a few drops of the oil blend on a piece of cloth.
  • Apply cloth on the neck area.
  • Press gently.
  • Do this technique once a day for one to two weeks.

Stiff neck is rarely a sign of a serious problem.

However, as it can hamper your daily activities, you need to get immediate relief from this.

The techniques mentioned above will surely be a lot of help.

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