“I can’t look over my shoulder to back up my car,” 60 year old Jennie complained, “and it’s scary to drive because my neck hurts when I turn my head fast.”
“I just woke up with it, now I’m walking around like Frankenstein,” 12 year old Justin reported as he walked in with his mom, unable to turn his head.
Stiff necks, neck pain, neck pain radiating into the upper back or arms or neck pain causing headaches:
as chiropractors, we often see an increase of these types of complaints this time of year. Why? And more importantly, how can you avoid a stiff, painful neck if possible?
Simple Mistakes That Can Cause A Stiff/Painful Neck
1. Cold air blowing on your neck. This time of year people often go to sleep with a window open in warm air. Then the temp drops in the night and they wake chilled. Old trigger points in muscles will be activated if you get chilled. Trigger points can cause neck pain and stiffness. Protect your neck from drafts.
2. Lying on the couch with your head on the arm. Do this long enough and over time, it will damage the joints in your neck and alter how your head sits on the top of your spine. This will eventually cause neck pain and stiffness. It is best not to lie on couches at all, but if you must, then properly support your head with a pillow.
3. Increased stress. Increased stress due to increased activity in the autumn can also activate old trigger points causing neck pain and stiffness. Making sure you take time for yourself and not over scheduling yourself or your family can help. Schedule time for adequate rest, moderate exercise and relaxation.
4. Sitting, standing, working or sleeping with your head out of neutral position. Is your computer monitor straight in front of you? Do you hold the phone with your shoulder? Do you have to turn your head to see your television? Any time your head is held in one position, not looking straight ahead for a prolonged time, you are setting yourself up for neck pain and stiffness. This activity causes microtrauma to your neck joints and muscles and will eventually lead to pain and stiffness. Looking straight at your computer monitor and television, getting a head set for your phone if you are on it a lot, and being aware of your head position can all help.
5. Not properly treating old neck injuries. You may have fallen on your head, suffered an accident, or played football at one time. Old neck injuries cause faster spinal arthritis and disc degeneration than would otherwise happen. Sleeping on a cervical pillow that properly supports the spine can help. Getting regular chiropractic adjustments also will lessen flare ups of pain and stiffness.
Is a painful stiff neck limiting your ability to enjoy life? Don’t let it continue. If you suffer recurrent stiff or painful necks, there may be some help to reduce or stop the episodes. We have safe, comfortable methods of treating stiff painful necks that are not scary. Why suffer? Give us a call today at 978-535-6155 to schedule a convenient appointment or consult.