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Stiff Neck

Most of us have experienced waking up with a stiff neck that restricts our head and neck movements. It can be accompanied by discomforts such as headache, shoulder or arm pain. While most cases are mild and may recover even without treatment, it is important to seek help when symptoms are serious and recurrent.


  • Improper sleeping posture

  • Sleeping on an unsuitable pillow

  • Improper neck posture or sudden neck movements

  • Stress

  • Catching a cold; or invasion of pathogenic cold, wind, dampness



Waking up with a stiff neck frequently could be a warning sign of cervical spondylosis, an age-related condition involving changes to the bones, discs, and joints of the neck. While it is a normal “wear and tear” process, if the condition causes pressure on the spinal cord, it can lead to complications such as:

  • Numbness, tingling, weakness and/or pain in the limbs

  • Coordination problems, walking difficulty

  • Abnormal reflexes

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control (incontinence)​


TCM Approach

Treatment will be focused on improving local circulation and unblocking the meridians to reduce pain and increase range of movement. Approaches include:

  • Herbal medication

  • Acupuncture

  • Cupping

  • Scrapping

  • Moxibustion

  • Tuina massage



  • Maintain good sleeping and neck posture

  • Use a pillow of suitable height

  • Avoid sudden neck movements

  • Maintain a healthy stress level

  • Keep the neck warm

  • Do stretching exercises regularly

  • Do TCM maintenance such as acupuncture on a regular basis

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.


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