If you’ve ever woken up with a stiff neck, you’re not alone. While a stiff neck is commonly attributed to poor sleep, it can be caused by other factors as well. From pinched nerves to neck strains, there is more to neck stiffness than meets the eye.
Pain and stiffness in the neck can negatively affect your quality of life, especially if it lasts for more than a few days. The good news is that neck stiffness is treatable and usually does not last for a long period of time.
It’s essential to be able to identify the symptoms of a stiff neck before treating it. In some cases, what appears to be a stiff neck could be a more severe condition, such as meningitis, which requires immediate medical attention. The following symptoms are associated with a stiff neck.
- Tight muscles
- Shoulder stiffness
- Neck pain
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased range of motion in the neck
- Shoulder pain
A stiff neck can occur for various reasons, and symptoms may come on quickly depending on the cause. Injury is one of the most common causes of a stiff neck.
An injury may occur due to whiplash, a sports incident, or even poor posture. Muscle strain injuries are a common neck injury. If you think you may have sprained or strained your neck, it’s essential to see a doctor.
Diseases and conditions such as meningitis, degenerative disc disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, a spinal cord injury, osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, and spinal stenosis can all be accompanied by a stiff neck. Conditions affecting the vertebrate, joints, discs in the back and neck, or diseases that cause inflammation, can cause stiff neck symptoms. This reaction is due to degeneration, misalignment, infection, and more.
Sometimes, a stiff neck is caused by sleeping in an awkward position or looking at a screen for too long with poor posture. A bad night’s sleep without proper support can cause anyone to wake up with a stiff neck. Luckily, there are simple stiff neck remedies if you have a bad case of text neck or just slept wrong.
Lastly, excessive stress can lead to neck tension. Stress can exhibit itself in the body in many ways, and unfortunately, the neck is not immune. Tackling stress is key to preventing a stiff neck in the future.
Your soft tissues can take a beating whether you’re staring at a computer all day or vigorously exercising. No matter how much or how little you’re doing, there’s always a risk for injury and stiffness. While no prevention technique can be entirely effective for every person, they’re a great place to start if you’re a chronic stiff neck sufferer.
- Instead of looking down at your phone or tablet, use them at eye level to reduce neck strain.
- Purchase a pillow made for neck support and make sure your mattress is firm enough as well.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your side or back instead.
- Get up and move often if you work at a desk. This will not only help your neck but the rest of your body as well.
- Stretch daily. Specifically for your neck, turn your head slowly from side to side.
Stiff Neck Treatments
Depending on the cause of your stiff neck, you may be able to treat it at home. However, if you have severe neck pain or any numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms or legs, see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation. If your stiff neck is also accompanied by a fever, incontinence, lumps or swelling in your neck or trouble breathing, call your doctor immediately.
At-home remedies for a stiff neck include:
- Applying ice the first few days
- Taking anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Aleve or over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol
- Using a heating pad once the swelling has reduced
- Maintaining good posture consistently
- Get a neck massage
- Gently stretch your neck muscles
- See a chiropractor
- Give your body the rest it needs from strenuous activities but continue moving and walking
- Change your pillow, mattress, or sleeping position to make sure you are adequately supported
- Take an Epsom salt bath
Remedies that require medical intervention:
- Muscle relaxers
- Antibiotics if there is an infection present
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
- Immobilization using a soft neck collar
If you’re suffering because of a stiff neck, our specialists are here to help. No matter what the issue is, we will help you get to the root of the problem and help create a treatment plan based on your needs. Call to schedule an appointment with our team today at 480-986-7246.