Out of all the daily aches and pains we’re dealing with, none of them is as common and as nagging as neck stiffness. Over 14% of Americans experience neck-related pain, with 80% of the population reporting some form of neck discomfort at some point in their lives!
Poor posture (primarily springing from inadequate ergonomics and staring into electronic devices), injuries, stress, and underlying health conditions can all make you wake up one day with a stiff neck.
Rest, over-the-counter medicine, and lifestyle adjustments will gradually relieve the pain and stiffness in your neck. Fortunately, our patients will find a smoother recovery avenue in the shape of chiropractic care!
What is Neck Stiffness?
Neck stiffness, also known as cervical stiffness, is a condition that affects the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck. It is characterized by a feeling of tightness or discomfort that limits the head’s range of motion. Stiffness in the neck can range from mild to severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, headaches, and dizziness.
What are the Common and Uncommon Causes of Neck Stiffness?
The causes behind your stiff neck pain are not always easy to pinpoint. It might stem from lifestyle choices (e.g., anxiety or lousy posture) or injury — these are considered common causes of neck stiffness. Uncommon causes, on the other hand, are attributable to medical conditions, such as herniated discs, cervical osteoarthritis, and tumors. Only an accurate diagnosis will put you on the right path toward recovery.
Common Stiff Neck Causes
- Lousy posture (Sitting or standing in a position that strains the neck muscles, e.g., slouching in front of a computer monitor or “text neck“)
- Injuries (e.g., whiplash or other forms of trauma)
- Stress (It causes muscle tension and stiffness in the neck)
- Poor sleeping position (i.e., sleeping with the neck in an awkward position)
Uncommon Stiff Neck Causes
- Degenerative conditions (e.g., arthritis, a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, etc.)
- Infections (e.g., meningitis and Lyme disease)
- Tumors (e.g., brain, spinal cord)
The Symptoms of a Stiff Neck
Although the symptoms of neck stiffness vary from person to person, it’s easy to recognize certain pain patterns in patients. It usually starts with pain or soreness in the neck, followed by tightness or discomfort. Then, patients gradually experience difficulty moving the head altogether (i.e., the actual neck stiffness). If left untreated, the symptoms will progress as far as headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
Can Neck Stiffness Cause Headaches?
Many patients may deal with a pounding headache simultaneously with stiff neck symptoms, as there is a strong correlation between the two. That is because muscle strain affects the neck nerves, causing headaches. So next time you’re looking for headache pain relief, consider whether your stiff neck might be to blame — pinpointing the cause will help determine the right treatment avenue!
Can Neck Stiffness Cause Vertigo?
The cervical spine plays a crucial role in balance and coordination, which is why any neck inflammation or muscle strain may lead to symptoms of vertigo (e.g., dizziness and lightheadedness).
How Chiropractic Care Addresses Neck Pain!
More and more patients seek chiropractic care for treating neck stiffness, as it is a noninvasive, drug-free approach to pain relief! Chiropractors receive specialized training to identify the underlying causes of a stiff neck and develop a personalized treatment plan to address these issues.
During your initial consultation, our team of chiropractors will perform a thorough physical examination and examine your medical history to determine the root cause of your neck pain. This process will include assessing your posture, range of motion, and any other physical or neurological symptoms. Based on this assessment, we will develop a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. Our expert chiropractors may suggest several treatment methods and lifestyle adjustments, such as:
- Spinal adjustments involve the manual manipulation of the spine to improve alignment and mobility. They will help alleviate pressure on the nerves and reduce inflammation in the neck.
- Soft tissue therapy involves the application of pressure to the neck muscles and soft tissues to relieve tension and improve your range of motion.
- We will also provide you with workplace ergonomics advice to minimize neck strain, such as:
– Purchasing a more comfortable chair for your office
– Adjusting your chair position
– Adopting proper posture when sitting
– Setting up your computer at eye level
– Standing up and moving after every hour of work
The Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments for Neck Stiffness
Two are the reasons why more and more patients seek chiropractic care as an additional medical treatment for their neck stiffness:
- Noninvasive: Chiropractors use noninvasive approaches to treating a stiff neck, meaning you’ll avoid the risks and side effects of surgery and medication!
- Drug-free: Chiropractors make no use of prescription medication, allowing the body to heal naturally!
Other Remedies for Addressing Stiff Neck Pain
Chiropractic sessions may be a solid step toward neck pain relief, but your journey toward healing is not over yet. That is why combining our chiropractic expertise with other treatment avenues is the only way to ensure that your symptoms will vanish! Don’t picture grim scenarios of surgeries and strenuous physical therapy in your mind — it’s all about small but effective lifestyle changes!
- Taking ample time to rest: Taking it easy for a day or two allows injured tissues to heal, thus relieving your stiff neck symptoms. For example, swimmers should avoid certain swim strokes that involve repeated head twisting for a few days. However, this is not a license for slacking off, as too much inactivity will weaken the neck muscles, causing them to struggle to adequately support the head.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen or naproxen) are the first line of treatment for neck stiffness and soreness. Another OTC medication to consider is acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), which does provide pain relief, but without alleviating any inflammation. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the potential side effects of OTC pain relievers, such as digestive issues.
- Cold/heat therapy: The application of cold and heat to the inflamed area will help relieve pain symptoms while creating a more appropriate healing environment. Putting an ice pack on the painful area will counteract the inflammation, while a heating pad will stimulate blood flow and facilitate the body’s healing process!
- Stretching: Including a stretching routine in your daily schedule can help relieve neck pain and stiffness and prevent them from recurring. Be sure to stretch gently and slowly while always breathing in and out fully, as sudden movements or overstretching will only worsen your discomfort.
Stretching routines for neck pain relief is simple and can be performed anywhere!
- Acupuncture: This age-old pain relief technique removes any hindrance impeding your energy levels from traveling through the body’s meridians, called qi. Acupuncturists insert needles into specific pressure points for 10-30-minute sessions to unblock the stuck energy and reestablish an adequate flow of qi. Acupuncture sessions take place in a relaxed atmosphere, with little to no discomfort, providing you the opportunity to rediscover your inner peace!
Treat Your Neck Pain at Bergen Chiropractic!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care through chiropractic sessions and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!
- Wells, Diana. “How to Fix a Stiff Neck: Home Remedies and Treatments.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 6 Apr. 2022, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-a-stiff-neck. Accessed 9 Mar. 2023.
- “Remedies for a Stiff Neck, Ways to Manage Muscle Stiffness, and When to See Your Doctor.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/remedies-for-stiff-neck. Accessed 9 Mar. 2023.
- “Stiff Neck: Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324070#prevention. Accessed 9 Mar. 2023.