Stiff neck: symptoms, causes, all remedies

Stiff neck: symptoms, causes, all remedies

Blocked neck, neck pain, slight postural deviation of the head are all obvious signs of stiff neck, an often limiting condition.

stiff neck

Torticollis is a pathological condition that severely limits the mobility of the cervical tract. It can have various causes, not only of a physical nature, but also of a psychosomatic nature. In fact, it can also occur in case of strong tensions or accumulated stress. Let’s find out better.

  • What is a torticollis
  • Symptoms of stiff neck
  • Causes of torticollis
  • How long does the stiff neck last
  • How to cure a stiff neck: all the remedies
  • Nutrition in case of stiff neck
  • Natural remedies for a stiff neck
  • Bach flowers for a stiff neck
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Aromatherapy for a stiff neck
  • How to sleep with a stiff neck
  • Exercises for a torticollis
  • How to prevent a stiff neck

What is a torticollis

A torticollis is defined as a strong tension and contracture that involves the lateral muscles of the cervical spine . It can be accompanied by pain syndrome, and prevents normal rotational or circling movements of the neck. In more serious cases, neck pain also affects the dorsal tract, with difficulty in moving the shoulders and raising the arms. It can lead to transient deformation, with a tilted head.

Several types of torticollis are identified:

  • Muscular torticollis : sudden contracture with spasms of the neck muscles
  • Traumatic torticollis : contracture of the neck due to a trauma or accident
  • Symptomatic torticollis : muscle contracture linked to various causes, such as neurological pathologies, visual difficulties, etc.
  • Congenital torticollis : tension from shortening of the muscles and cervical bone malformations.

Symptoms of stiff neck

Sharp neck pain , which often occurs in the morning, is the main symptom. The suffering intensifies with each movement of the head.

The almost total immovability of the neck is evident and very painful when even the slightest tilt of the head is attempted. It can also affect children, due to trauma, bad posture and stiff neck in children sometimes seems to be more painful.

Causes of torticollis

The stiff neck can be generated by various causes: by climatic factors such as a cold or by very humid environments. Incorrect postures maintained for a long time or chronically repeated favor the onset of the disorder. A stiff neck can also arise with   sudden movements or drafts. 

Other causes can be:

  • Viral infections:
  • inflammations
  • injury to the cervical spine (e.g. herniated disc)

There is also a congenital variant of torticollis due to a retraction of the sternocleidomastoid muscle or from bone malformations of the cervical vertebrae, originating during intrauterine life. 


The diagnosis reveals an altered mechanical structure of the cervical region , often due to cold strokes, sudden movements, inadequate posture, exaggerated and prolonged stress .

Compared to traumatic events, cases of neck pain caused by muscle tension are more common, which appear on palpation in the form of “nodules” or “cords” .

Other diagnostic evaluations may result in: degeneration of the intervertebral discs, alteration of the adjacent vertebral bodies, stenosis of the vertebral canal. Nerve compression can be confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging tests, or by computed tomography myelography.

How long does the stiff neck last

Muscular torticollis can last two or three days, in acute form. Generally thanks to simple home remedies, such as warm cloths applied to the neck, circulatory ointments, but also anti-inflammatory it resolves in a few days.

The remission of torticollis from trauma  is instead linked to more complex factors.

How to cure a stiff neck: all the remediesHere are the main remedies to treat a stiff neck : from nutrition to natural remedies to exercises 

Nutrition in case of stiff neck 

Pain in the cervical area is often related to the liver and gallbladder organs . It is therefore necessary to support both with bitter-tasting vegetables ( chicory , turnip greens , radicchio , Belgian endive ) sautéed in a pan with garlic and extra virgin olive oil .

Foods such as artichokes and nettle should be consumed more frequently . Also useful is a milk thistle or artichoke tea, to be taken before breakfast and dinner.

Sometimes neck pain can result from lymphatic system stagnation . To avoid stasis and support the liver and gallbladder, it is necessary to reduce milk and derivatives, animal fats contained in meat and sausages, refined flours and industrial foods.

You can learn more about all the ailments and natural remedies for liver treatment

Natural remedies for a stiff neck  

As in the case of acute neck pain, also for the torticollis plants are used that act as anti-inflammatories of the osteoarticular system that inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins (PGE2), responsible for pain and the inflammatory process of the tissues, without damaging the protective layer of the apparatus gastrointestinal.
These remedies can be taken in the form of mother tinctures or dry extracts; or, as ingredients of ointments and ointments to spread on aching joints.

  • Devil’s claw, especially useful in situations that cause pain and inflammation , such as tendonitis, osteoatritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, headache, neck pain, bruises, sciatica, arthritis, arthrosis. The root of the Devil’s Claw ( Harpagophytum procumbens ) contains the Harpagosides, responsible for the analgesic and antipyretic effects of the plant;
  • Boswellia : ( Boswellia serrata ) a gum resin is extracted from the trunk and twigs, capable of carrying out a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic action on various pathologies of the osteo-articular system. Its use is recommended in the treatment of local inflammations, degenerative joint disorders, reduced morning motor skills, muscle pain, rheumatism, arthrosis, inflammation of soft tissues such as tendonitis, myositis and fibromyalgia;
  • Spirea : ( Spirea ulmaria ) the flowers and the flowering tops are considered, together with the bark of the Willow (Salix alba), the ” vegetable salicylates “, and for this reason, they are used to relieve the painful states caused by acute joint rheumatism and affections rheumatic diseases in general, arthrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, toothache, back pain and cervical pain;
  • Turmeric ( Curcuma longa ) the root is traditionally used both in Ayurvedic medicine and in traditional Chinese medicine, for its ability to counteract inflammatory processes within the body, for this reason it is recommended in the treatment of inflammation, joint pain, arthritis and cervical arthrosis.

Bach flowers for a stiff neck 

Flower therapy works not so much on physical factors that affect the osteoarticular system, but above all on emotional imbalances and character attitudes that lead to excessive rigidity. 
Sometimes, torticollis like neck pain occurs in moments that are difficult to manage, so the stress that builds up is completely discharged on the cervical area, leading to excruciating pain and contractures. 

  • Rock Water : helps those suffering from joint pain, contractures and physical stiffness in the limbs and neck, for a too controlled conception of life, deprived of the playful side. Suitable for those who impose themselves (and impose on others) high ideals of perfection, fixed and unassailable rules. Closed in himself, he is a bad interlocutor, he does not question himself; he avoids confrontation, thinking he is always right, thus denying himself the possibility of growing. This flower gives mental flexibility, openness, and character elasticity. It helps to open up to the pleasures of life, to dissolve moral rigidity, and, consequently, also the physical one. 
  • Oak : is the remedy for those suffering from neck pain, shoulder and neck contractures due to an excessive sense of duty that does not allow rest. The individual never shirks from commitments and fights every day with all possible energy, without allowing himself a moment’s respite. He has a sense of duty that is so developed, excessive, that he never allows himself a failure, an illness. Inflexible with himself, self-demanding, he is a hard worker. The remedy helps to understand the importance of relaxation, of rest; allows you to take well-deserved breaks, softening the sense of duty.


Traditional Chinese Medicine 

To loosen the contraction of the muscles in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) , cold wind and Xue stasis are treated, in order to disperse Cold and Humidity.

Important points are:

  • HOU XI (at the level of the little finger joint), eliminates Wind-Heat syndromes, relaxes muscles and tendons;
  • JI QUAN (in the center of the axillary fossa), eliminates the Heat in the Liver;
  • JIAN LIAO (in the posterior dimple of the shoulder), expels the Wind; 
  • NAO SHU (under the lower edge of the scapular spine), eliminates Wind syndromes and dissolves Moisture.

Aromatherapy for a stiff neck 

The essential oils used against the stiff neck are those with a marked rubefacient activity , that is, they cause the recall of blood in the most superficial layers of the skin, warming the area and easing the inflammation in the underlying layers, thanks to the blood subtraction.

These essences should be used externally or by diluting 3 drops in a tablespoon of arnica oil or added to a neutral massage cream. 

  • White fir essential oil : analgesic and anti-inflammatory, silver fir has an anti-inflammatory action, increases vasodilation and local blood circulation, relieving the pain of arthrosis, arthritis, sciatica, cervical pain and rheumatism.
  • Juniper essential oil : it is used with benefit in inflammations of the osteoarticular system. If massaged on the painful area, juniper essential oil stimulates the body’s production of cortisone , with a marked analgesic effect.
  • Ginger essential oil : it has a pain relieving effect  and ginger works against muscle stiffness and painful states due to trauma, strains, strains, back pain, headaches and neck pain.

How to sleep with a stiff neck

Resting too much aggravates the symptoms of stiff neck . In fact, joint stiffness is closely linked to a sedentary lifestyle and movement helps to keep the body in a healthy balance and good fluidity.

But sleeping is a necessity and with a stiff neck it is often difficult because there is no “antalgic” posture. The advice is to use a duvet pillow if possible, or with memory foam to adapt it completely to the shape of the neck and to support the side bands.

Alternatively , those horseshoe-shaped travel pillows that support the neck and head can be useful, so as not to wake up with a start from the pain due to an involuntary movement of the head.


Exercises for a torticollis

Learning to relax is an indispensable job for those suffering from this disorder; an imperative that brings countless benefits in the long run. For this it can be useful to follow Qi gong lessons held by expert masters who know how to guide the imagination aimed at conveying the breath and attention between the different parts of the body.

How to prevent a stiff neck

Trying to keep the muscles elastic in general is always good advice , so moving the neck with rotations and circles , gentle but decontracting self-massages are techniques that allow you to prevent a stiff neck, to relieve muscle pain.

For those who work at the computer for many hours it is important to take small breaks and change position, move the neck, relax the eyes.

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