CAUSES, CURES, PREVENTION
As an amateur, you need to seek expert help in order to make the "distinctions" necessary to know what you are doing. I found it frustrating to try to get help from my GP (probably my fault as I didn't know what to ask until I learned more). So I had to learn it on my own, getting help from a physical therapist, a group "Healthy Back" exercise/stretching class, and all the advice I could get from various specialists as they went by (during the brief visits). It seems that most people learn from scratch and don't learn enough to reach a high effectiveness level - that's a big mistake. In all learning, one should learn as much as one can from people who have been through it successfully. (I'm trying to be one of those people.
Pain and stiffness may come from adjacent muscles, including the jaw and face, or shoulders and upper arms. So treating and conditioning those are important.
Neck Pain Causes
Overload on spine, poor posture, especially while sitting and/or working
Disc problems (arthritis,posture)
Sleep on side
Pillow between knees and ankles
It is also better to not sleep on your back unless you have a special orthopedic pillow to make sure the spine is aligned properly. Also, the curvature must support the neck curve (perhaps with some enhancement) so there is no strain.
Have someone observe you with different pillows:
While lying on your side, your neck and head should remain horizontally level with your mid to lower back.
While lying on your back, your neck and head should remain level with with your upper back and spine.
Read more: How to Use a Neck Pillow | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5078864_use-neck-pillow.html#ixzz2IuzAdMJI
Look in one direction to one side at a time as far as you can, hold for a count of at least 5-10.
hand on side of head, some resistance.
Hands behind head and push forward.
Push in the opposite way of the tension, such as gently pulling your head to the side and holding for 30 seconds for a good stretch.
If your pain is really bad, get an orthopedic pillow which has the central portion hollowed out.
To relieve locked up muscles: Push hard with a finger on a "pressure point" (stiff and usually hurts a bit to press on) for 20 seconds and then release quickly. Do this for all "stiff" places and they'll begin to unravel and you'll feel loose again.
Treating the pain and/or inflammation
Anti-inflammatories - Ibuprofen, naproxen (check with doctor to verify that it is ok.
Of course, but prescribed, muscle relaxers
Increase potassium and magnesium, and Omega 3.
Proper position for neck
Straight line from top of head thru ear, shoulders. See this Picture of correct posture (and read the information on the site). . Do not lean forward! Nor droop shoulders forward.
So, a nice “C” curve in the cervical spine equals a relaxed spinal cord. Elongating it out straight equals tension. This tension causes stress to the cord, and therefore inhibits nervous system function, which leads to neck problems. Note the picture of the workstation in the above link.
So, I raised the back of my chair for better support and fit to my lower back.
Adjust the back-forward position in the chair, with someone observing to see correct "stacking of the head vertebrae" and not leaning forward or back. Sit exactly centered, not leaning to one side on the arm of the chair. I just raised te arms on my chair to naturally rest my arms lightly.
Proper viewing focus at computer - I just got some "computer" glasses, as I noticed I leaned forward sometimes to focus on small print.
If you don't rotate or turn your neck, it will stop turning.