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How to manage a stiff neck?

Q: I am a 28 years old male and I get a stiff neck very frequently. I even visited an orthopaedic specialist but he diagnosed nothing. I often give quick jerks (swinging my neck) that gives me momentary relief. Please sugest some exercises to strenthen my neck. Can giving jerks harm my neck?

A:Stiffness in the neck is usually due to the spasm of the neck muscles. The best relaxant for you is heat and hence, relief will be felt with fomentation. This can be episodic also depending on the type of work you do or if you have a faulty posture that gives your muscles the wrong pull and you keep getting the same rigidity in your neck again and again. Giving jerks to your spine is definitely going to injure your cervical spine and all these impacts will add up slowly to produce degeneration in the spine. Your spine will be devoid of any flexibility as elasticity in the ligaments and the intervertebral discs is lost. This gives you severe pain in the neck. Please take care not to jerk your spine as this can be very harmful and your muscles will also weaken and you will be susceptible to a lot of avoidable neck problems. You can take hot water fomentation so that your muscles relax and your pain subsides. Then, you can try these exercises as per your tolerance and increase the counts up to ten. Stop any exercise that causes pain. Range of motion exercises (Sit erect, stay relaxed and move gently.) 1. Slowly turn your head to the right until it hurts, hold and return it to the center. Do the same to the left. 2. Drop your chin slowly towards your chest, hold and relax. Bring your head back up. 3. Tilt your head straight over towards your left ear, hold and return it to the center. Do the same on the right side. 4. Tilt your head backward so that you can see the ceiling, hold, then bring your head back down. Isometric Exercises (Don't hold your breath as you do these. For each exercise, press 5-6 counts, then relax.) 1. Press your forehead into your palm. Resist any motion. 2. Press your hand against the side of your head. Try to bring your ear to your shoulder, but, resist any motion. 3. Press both hands against the back of your head. Try to pull your head up, but resist any motion. 4. Press your hand against your temple. Try to turn your chin to your shoulder, but resist any motion. When your neck pain has subsided, you can resume further activities. Remember, pain is a warning sign. So, avoid activities that cause discomfort.

  • Follow your therapist's instructions properly.
  • Strengthen your neck with simple exercises.
  • Keep your neck straight with good posture.
  • Give your neck breaks during prolonged work or sitting.
  • Make sure your car seats have properly adjusted headrests.
  • Play it safe - Use proper equipment if you are playing any sport.
  • Lastly, make sure you do not give jerks to your neck. It will definitely harm your neck.

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