Stiff neck - what to do?

Darn! I just posted and my server crashed. I hope this doesn’t post twice!

Ok, so I woke up with a stiff neck Tuesday morning. I couldn’t turn my head to the right, and it was shooting pain up into my head and down into my shoulder. A coworker offered to massage it and I let her, and now I have a fair-sized lump, that is red and raw! :smack: Milburn just shakes his head when I ask him about it, but should I go to a doctor? I’ve been putting ice on it and taking ibuprofen and it seems to help … I guess my question is twofold - a) do I see a doctor and b) are these the sort of things that just spontaneously “happen” for no reason now that I’m, ah, of a certain age?

I just had the stiff neck thing…pain zinging through my shoulder and neck. It was awful. I went to the doctor and got shots and pills. It took me a full week to get back to normal. I’d say go to the doctor. Why suffer? Especially when it’s the kind of pain you can’t get away from – even when you sleep!

Probably just a stiff neck from “sleeping funny,” or peering over the hedge at Jethro.

Try a heating pad (don’t fall asleep with it on!), and see the doctor if it doesn’t go away in a couple days. And you have my address, for the leftover Vicodin, yes?

You know I’m allergic to Vicodin! I must have done something very bad in a former life. Ok, will call the doc.

If you don’t mind smelling like menthol, put an Icy Hot patch on and wear it all day. Another option is a disposable heating pad. I don’t recall the name of it, but it has some iron thing-or-other that oxidizes and heats up when you open it. Just open it and stick it on the back of your neck. I’ve had good success with both those for back, shoulders, & neck. It should be near the Icy Hot patches.

My boss swears by cherry juice, but he’s a cherry farmer so what can I say?

I’ve had this happen to me twice, where I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and can’t turn my neck. Scared the crap out of me. IIRC it’s gone away after a day of lying in bed / lounging around the house–the next morning I’ve been just fine.

I’ve got chronic problems with stiff neck. I swear by the ThermaCare patches. They’re like portable heating pads that last for about 8 hours.

Relax your neck with some heat and get a good therapeutic massage. Narcotic painkillers don’t really do much for me, but plain Motrin or other anti-inflammatory drugs help immensely.

Best of luck.


Thanks everyone! I will buy some of those patches asap.

OK, soon-to-be professional massage therapist weighing in here.

If your neck is red, raw, and swollen, do not, I repeat, do not apply heat. This is a sign of inflammation. Heat would be bad. Use ice. No more massage until the red rawness goes away. Oh, and get thee to a physician.

My educated guess is that you somehow managed to give yourself a mild whiplash injury- you can do this with a good hard sneeze. So, there was probably some injury-related inflammation going on that the massage exacerbated.

Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it…

Get thee to a physician.

Well, I DO live and drive in Los Angeles - I probably get mild whiplash every day just driving on the freeway. It’s the redness and rawness I’m just puzzled by - it didn’t feel bad when my coworker was “working” on it, but it feels like a burn. That’s what’s strange.

I guess if it’s still the same tomorrow AM, I’ll call the doctor.

Not uncommon, really. Sometimes with really deep work, the client will feel great while being worked on, but be sore the next day- kind of “day after workout” sore. Same with whiplash injuries. You feel fine right after it happenes, but then you wake up in the morning with the pain and the stiffness, and if the incident that caused the injury was one of those seemingly minor things, and it was a fairly minor injury, you might just think that you “slept on it wrong”. Anyhoo, if there was an injury involved, the massage probably brought more blood flow into the area (which is good in the healing phase of an injury, but not in the acute phase because of inflammation), but it just took a while for it to swell up to the point that it did. It had probably been gradually swelling for quite a while, but you just didnt really notice until you went to sleep, then woke up and found this big ol’ honkin’ lump on your neck.

Also, if your coworker isn’t a trained massage therapist, she might have been too aggressive with the massage, and possibly given you an “Indian burn” as well as aggravating whatever underlying problem she was trying to fix with the massage.

That’s so funny, I just mentioned to Eve this morning that it feels like I have an “indian burn.” It’s much better now, swelling has gone down significantly, and the stiffness is much better. But that’s the last time I ever put my neck in the hands of an untrained massage therapist. Thank you everyone!

I’m betting you did get some sort of minor whiplash-type injury. I say that because I played on a contraption once where you’re strapped to a bungee cord, and you race another person to see who can get the furthest before the bungees snap you back (it was on an inflatable track type thing). Anyway, the next day my neck siezed up like yours seems to be doing. I couldn’t move my head left or right without sharp pains. I went to the doctor and got some muscle relaxant pills and was fine in a day or two. The same thing also happened to a couple other people who had played the game.

Your profile says that this is a key part of your existence. I also love the feeling of a good menthol rub!

Could it the redness be sunburn?

I occasionally get pain on the left side of my neck, radiating into my shoulder. Once it became pain shooting up into my head, and I went to the doc and got a big shot of demerol. Soon as I came back to earth, the shooting pain was gone. Still get the achy neck pain sometimes, and finally realised it was from cradling the phone on my shoulder while using the computer at work.