How to relieve stiff neck

stiff neck. tcm. acupuncture


What causes stiff neck?

Stiff neck and shoulder pain can be caused by several different conditions. It can be due to sitting down too long in front of the computer, scrolling on social feeds in the same position for hours (guilty as charged!) or looking down often while working.

Our head can weigh up to 5 kg.

If you tilt your head down, the strain on your neck will go up to 27kg! (* horror emoji)  

Other factors include traumas such as whiplash or bone fracture that can injure  the muscle, nerves, discs and cervical spine.

Some conditions related to neck pain include fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, infection, herniated cervical disc, or spine-related cancer.

4 types of stiff neck according to TCM

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, neck and shoulder pain can be categorized into these 4 main types.

Major symptoms are listed here, check which type you belong to.


1)Acute Type

  • Desk bound job

  • Tired eyes

  • Sit in the same position for a long time

  • Worsens in cold weather

  • Wandering shoulder pain

  • Aversion to cold

  • Runny nose / cough

  • Slight fever

2) Qi stagnation Type

  • Distending or numb sensation

  • Aggravated by stress or emotional upset

  • Irritable

  • Irregular menses

  • Sigh often

  • Insomnia

  • Headache

3) Blood stagnation Type

  • Stabbing sensation at fixed location

  • History of traumatic injury to the shoulder joint

  • Swelling of the shoulder joint

  • Pain is worse at night

  • Irregular / painful menses

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Dull complexion

  • Bruise easily

4) Damp-Phlegm Type

  • Shoulder and body feels heavy

  • Muscles feel tight and swollen

  • Aggravated on cold rainy days

  • Easily get puffy eyes

  • Easily bloated

  • Have diarrhea often

  • Low appetite

  • Dizziness

How to treat stiff neck?

Acupuncture points

  • Local: LI15 Jianyu,GB20 Fengchi, SI9 Jianzhen and SIIl Tianzong

  • Distal: BL66 Tonggu, Bl60 Kunlun, SI3 Houxi

 Herbal medication for stiff neck

  • Ge Gen Tang

  • Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

  • Juan Bi Tang

  • Dang Gui Die Tong Tang

  • Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Lifestyle changes for stiff neck

  • If your neck is very painful,reduce physical activity for 1 – 2 days.

  • Practice correct and proper sitting, standing, and sleeping posture.

  • Avoid activities that cause stiff neck such as placing your phone between your  ear and neck, falling asleep in a chair, or shampooing your hair in the sink.

  • When lifting heavy objects, proper techniques should be used to prevent injury.


Start stretching

  • Nod your head up and down. Bring by your chin to your chest and then look up towards the ceiling.

  • Nod your head from side to side.

  • Turn your head slowly from left side to right side and vice versa for few minutes.

*STOP if the exercise is causing more pain*


Keep Warm

  • If it is due to cold, heat packs can be applied. Or use hair dryer (warm air) to blow the affected areas.

  • Make sure that the cold air-con is not blowing directly on your back.

Self care

  • Try orange peel essential oils for massage or find a hobby that you love as a method of self care.


These food help to increase blood circulation. In TCM, they say “When circulation is stagnant, there will be pain”.
Say bye to stagnation and pain!

  • Onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric and spices.

  • Black beans and vinegar.

Thank you for reading and please share with those who are suffering from stiff neck 🙂

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