Most people suffer a stiff neck every once in a while but few think that their stiff neck will become neck pain. Unfortunately, neck stiffness that happens more than once a year will eventually become neck pain unless you do something to help yourself. Waking up with a stiff neck is the most common way that neck pain starts. This shows that we can get a neck problem without necessarily being in a car accident or  falling down some stairs. To prevent recurring neck stiffness from  turning into neck pain, here are some of the most common stiff neck causes and what can you do to help yourself.

Common stiff neck causes

Why is it so common that people get a stiff neck ? It is because the neck does a lot of work in two different ways:1. supporting the weight of the head and 2. turning in many directions to allow our eyes to see what we need to see.

Many people blame arthritis for their neck stiffness or neck pain. They are often told ‘ nothing can be done about arthritis’, but that is not the whole truth. We cannot change how arthritis looks on an x-ray. But, we can change how well your neck functions, moves and feels.

Your neck is complex. How each joint in your neck and in your back works and how well all the many muscles in your body work together influences your neck. Many people put up with occasional or even frequent stiff necks, not realizing that it will eventually lead to neck pain if left untreated. Here are some ways to help stiff necks.

How to keep stiff necks from turning into neck pain

What can you do on your own to avoid making your neck stiffness worse?

  • Support your neck with a neck roll or neck rest every time you must sit for a long time.
  • limit sitting to no more than 30 to 45 minutes at a time without getting up and moving.
  • when driving a car or using a computer make sure that your seat supports you all the way up to the back of your head and neck and take regular breaks
  • Avoid using two pillows in bed because that usually pushes your head too far forward. If you must sleep with your upper body raised, use a bed wedge to raise your upper body. Use one thin pillow to support your neck atop the wedge.
  • If you can lie flat, use a single pillow. A cervical pillow with a built-in arch gives your neck the supportive front-to-back curve that it is supposed to have. This pillow support also eases tight neck muscles.
  • when working at a computer, make sure your head is in neutral, not looking up or down or to the side for any amount of time
  • do not hold the phone with your shoulder with your head bent to the side
  • do not keep looking down at your cell phone.  Hold it up so you can see it without bending your neck
  • If  you still keep getting stiff necks, then it is best to seek treatment to prevent them from turning into painful necks
Treatments for recurring stiff necks
  1. We begin by checking your posture to determine what can be helped. It is important to look at the whole person and not just their neck. The spine is connected one end to the other something like a goose neck lamp. Spinal joints not working right at one end can affect the other end of the spine. Therefore, it is important to as much as possible, free up the movement of all the joints in the spine. There are a number of safe and gentle methods that can improve spinal joint movement.
  2. Next we check your muscle balance. Eliminating any uneven muscle pulls eases tension on the entire body as well as easing the neck stiffness. Therapies such as massage, myofascial release, ultrasound and infrasound all address tight and tender muscles.
  3. We have even seen people lose their neck pain by taking care of their feet. Flat feet can cause muscle and joint imbalances from the feet and ankles all the way up to the neck and jaw.
  4. Specific exercises that stretch tight muscles while strengthening weak muscles can often improve your muscle balance. We teach you special stabilization exercises so your posture not only looks better but  feels better. Improving postural balance and spinal function not only eases neck discomforts but also improves your health and well being.
  5. The treatments we give are gentle enough to be safe but firm enough to improve the way your joints and muscles work together. This helps your neck function better and feel better as soon as possible.

Don’t wait for recurring stiff necks to turn into bad neck pains. Seeking help sooner before joints and muscles have advanced degeneration can improve your comfort and health in less time and for less cost. Why suffer?  If you need help, call us at 978-535-6155 for a convenient appointment.