Many patients ask me to recommend a natural treatment for neck stiffness. Supplements that work well include homeopathic Rhus toxicodendron—take two pellets of a 30C potency twice daily for two weeks. If there is improvement, continue taking it for another month.

Another option is the supplement methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). It is a natural compound that contains the mineral sulfur, which acts as an anti-inflammatory. MSM works better than over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, because it has an antispam effect and improves circulation. Start with 3,000 mg of MSM and gradually increase to 5,000 mg, if necessary. You can take MSM indefinitely—the only negative side effect is possible digestive upset.

Another weapon is fish oil (1,000 mg daily of combined EPA-DHA). In a study published in Surgical Neurology, fish oil was given to patients with chronic neck and low-back pain. After an average of 75 days, 60o/o of subjects reported significant improvement, including reduction in pain and stiffness, and 59o/, were able to stop taking other pain medicine. Don't take fish oil if you use a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin).

Soft tissue work by a massage therapist also can relieve neck stiffness, as can acupuncture.

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