If you have hurt your neck in any way, the best thing to do is rest. Lie back with an ice pack wrapped around the painful area for 30 minutes. Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen 600 mg four times a day. Repeat cold packs 30 minutes, four times a day for two days. After a few days, gentle heat may be used intermittently to relax the area. Don’t overdo the heat, it can make you more sore. Limit it to about 20 minutes four times a day. Get back to your activities as quickly as you can. After a day of activity, an ice pack in the evening can reduce the next day stiffness.
Once you feel well enough, you will want to move onto the Rehab stage. Begin to restore your neck’s mobility. Begin by warming the neck for 10 minutes. Some light aerobic activity may help loosen the muscles. While sitting, tilt your neck forward until you begin to feel the stretch. Hold there for 30 seconds, relax a minute, then repeat 5 times. Do the stretch in the backwards direction, then tilting to each side (ear towards shoulder), then rotating (chin towards shoulder). Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, repeating 5 times. If the discomfort has increased after the stretches, cold-pack the neck for 30 minutes. Repeat the exercises twice a day.
For more active exercise, use the palm of your hand as a ‘graded resistance machine.’ Put your palm against your forehead, and push your neck against it. Slowly push the hand forward with your head until the neck is fully bent, then let the head return to the neutral position while continuing resistance.
Repeat 10 times. Do the exercise for backward motion (with both hands behind your head), then with side-tilt (with a palm against your scalp just above the ear). Do the exercises twice a day.
As with all exercise, you need to listen to your body, keep the back of the neck and spine lengthened and the rib cage lifted. Remember to breathe as you work with the different exercises.
However, seeing a doctor is vital for all strains with a significant mechanism of injury or for severe, persistent, or unexplained symptoms or problems. As with other conditions, supportive self-care is often enough for you to have a complete recovery.
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