I injured my neck last Tuesday while working out with a personal trainer. I was doing a sit up with an 8 lb medicine ball in my hands and didn't tuck my chin in correctly as I came off the ground. I could feel my neck muscles strain and had a bad feeling at the time that I should stop what I was doing but kept going, ignoring (duh) my intuition. The next morning I woke up with terrible pain on the left side of my neck, just under the lymph nodes. It also felt like something was digging into the side of my throat every time I swallowed. I didn't do much about it except take some apple cider vinegar, figuring it would get better in a few days. 5 days passed, no improvement, and the pain was making me really tired all day so I decided to do something about it!
After debating about going to the ER (since it was the weekend and I couldn't get in to see a doctor for 2 more days), I decided instead to research on the internet exactly what my injury was. It took about an hour of research, but I ascertained it was a strain to the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Then I searched more under the term "Sternocleidomastoid strain" and came to a site mentioning "The Trigger Point Manual" by authors Travell and Simons. I remembered seeing this book in my husband's vast health collection, so I grabbed it and studied the section under sternocleidomastoid. The book talked about the importance of using the right pillow when you have this injury, so I decided last night to forgo a pillow altogether since I was waking up in excruciating pain when using my low-fill feather pillow. I also took a heaping teaspoon of turmeric in hot water right before going to bed. Then, before going to sleep (while lying down pillow-less), I decided to massage around the painful area in my neck, rather than touch it directly because it hurt so much. I also gave my ears a good massage and, grabbing the tips with my thumb and index finger bit by bit, pulled them in various directions. I actually found a tiny section on both ear tips that hurt terribly if I pulled it up and out in a certain direction. I figured this one spot might be related to my neck pain and held that position for 30 seconds. I could feel my jaw loosen from that one.
This morning I awoke feeling less pain (about 50% better). The injury was still making me feel really tired all day, so I took a long nap this afternoon -- yes, without my pillow! Now the pain is almost gone. I am excited! I think (but can't say for sure) removing the pillow has really been key, followed by the massage work and extra rest. Obviously I am going to be very careful in the future when doing any weight bearing exercises that trigger the neck muscles!