Treatment of Stiff Neck and Neck Pain

Stiff neck and pain due to it may disappear by itself without any treatment within few days. If your neck pain of stiff neck is troublesome and disturbing, you should see a doctor and get treated, which generally respond well to pain relieving medications, physiotherapy or manual treatment (e.g. chiropractic treatment).

When you see a doctor, the first thing your doctor do is to try to identify and diagnose the stiff neck and its possible cause(s). In most cases a thorough physical/clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose neck pain of neck stiffness, although sometimes X-ray or scan may be required.

Medications used for treatment of neck stiffness or neck pain:

Most commonly pain relieving medications are used, which are known as NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as paracetamol (acetamenophene), diclofenac (brand name “voveran”), ibuprofen (brand name “Brufen”) etc. These drugs should always be taken on full stomach to avoid stomach irritation and ulcer (peptic ulcer is a side effect of these drugs, i.e. NSAIDs). Patients with kidney problem should take pain medications carefully. If NSAIDs do not work, stronger pain killer may be required, such as codeine.

In some cases (especially in severe cases) muscle relaxant medications (such as tizanidine, chlorzoxazone, diazepam etc.) may be required for short duration to treat neck stiffness and neck pain.

Neck pain or neck stiffness of longer duration may have to be managed by physiotherapy (including advice on posture and use of pillow especially during sleep), neck collar, intensive muscle training. Some practitioners (including chiropractic practitioners and doctors) advise chiropractic treatment for neck pain of long duration.

The cause of stiff neck or neck pain should be identified and treated if possible for good result. Individuals with weak neck muscles are prone to develop frequent neck pain and neck stiffness. Exercise program to help strengthen neck muscle can give good result in such cases of weak neck muscles.

What should you do when you have neck pain?

If you have neck pain, try to stay active and perform your routine daily activities as usual. In most cases bed rest is not required for neck pain. If your doctor asks you to use neck collar, do not use it more than required. If you have neck pain of stiff neck, do not drive, as turning your head suddenly may be problematic.

If your neck pain or stiff neck does not resolve by itself within few days or it is troublesome, consult your doctor.

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