A sore neck is a common complaint especially for adults. Sore neck muscles can be the result of an accident, sports injury or poor posture. Some patients may experience a sore neck for a few hours while others may be coping with it for a few days. Timely treatment with self care measures can prevent a sore neck from reoccurring and help to strengthen neck muscles.
Neck muscles can become sore after being damaged, inflamed, overstretched or contracted for too long. Performing stretching exercises help to loosen the muscles and increase their flexibility. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, the neck is an area of the body that has little protection and should be handled carefully to prevent any injury to the spine. Stretching exercises may be most beneficial in the morning before starting any activity however they can be done any time of day. To perform a simple stretching exercise routine, patients should practice slowly turning their head from side to side, up and down and from ear to ear, attempting to hold each pose for five to ten seconds.
If a patient is experiencing neck soreness or neck pain, he can take a pain reliever to treat it. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking a mild pain reliever such as an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Acetaminophen, sold as brand name Tylenol, and ibuprofen, sold as brand name Advil or Motrin IB, are two commonly available NSAIDs that are available over-the-counter. If neck soreness or neck pain becomes severe, a patient’s doctor may prescribe a prescription-grade pain reliever.
Hot and Cold Treatment
Many patients have found that the application of heat and cold can alleviate a sore neck. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends using a cold treatment for the first 48-72 hours, then apply heat thereafter. Heat applications can be done with a heating pad on a low setting for ten to 15 minutes, a hot shower or applying warm towels to the affected area. Cold applications include an ice pack, frozen vegetables or cool towels.
Patients can also benefit from a massage in the affected area. They can ask a partner to gently massage the area or visit a professional massage therapist. They may feel some tension during the massage but it shouldn’t be painful.