Stiff neck is described as a condition where your neck becomes sore and difficult to move, especially when you try to turn your head to the sides. This can be accompanied by a headache and/or pain in the arms and shoulders. If you’re stuck with a stiff neck, you can expect the symptoms to last for a few days and even up to a week.
You may also experience trouble getting a comfortable position for sleeping. It can even hurt to toss and turn.
You will notice a decrease in your neck movement as you might not be able to move your neck from side to side. This is because the stiffness of your neck limits the motion of your cervical spine. A stiff neck can range from mild to severe but it does hurt and it can put a damper on your lifestyle.
You do need to be aware that there are also occasions when stiffness of the neck is a sign of a serious condition, like meningitis. It is always best to check with your doctor to rule out any serious illness.
Causes of Stiff Neck
One common cause of a stiff neck is an improper sleeping position. Sometimes when you wake up in the morning, your neck feels stiff.
This is due to a bad sleeping posture or a pillow that needs to be replaced. This may also happen when you sleep without a pillow supporting your head.
When you sleep, your body is in such a state of relaxation that your neck may get strained if the position you are in pulls the neck muscles. And you aren’t even aware of it until you wake up and try to move your neck.
Some of your stiff neck causes could be your work routine. If you have a taxing and demanding job which requires you to hold your head to one side for long hours, you could easily develop stiffness.
If you are under a lot of stress, the muscles in your body, particularly in your shoulders and neck, get tense. When this happens, it can cause a muscle spasm in your neck, limiting you to move your neck freely.
Another cause of neck stiffness and pain is whiplash. If you ever had whiplash, a condition where the neck is jerked rapidly, you know how much it hurts. It can take weeks or more for the whiplash to heal.
Infectious disease may also cause cervical stiffness. It is one of the symptoms of meningitis. Meningitis is an infectious disease where the tissues in the spinal cord and brain are inflamed. Other symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting.
Problems in the cervical spine can also cause neck stiffness. For instance, a disorder called cervical osteoarthritis can cause stiffness since all the nerves in the spine are interrelated to each other. Thus, a problem in one area can cause muscle stiffness in another area.
The dilemma with having a stiff neck is that it takes time to go away. So, it can greatly impact the way we move in our everyday life, including our job. This can be a real pain in the neck. The good news is that you can do some things that may help your pain.
Ice and Heat Packs Stiff Neck Remedy
Perhaps the best home remedy for neck stiffness is ice and heat. This remedy is safe when done properly and can be used for both acute and chronic neck pain. You can buy gel packs that can be heated or chilled. Cold compress can also be prepared from a bag filled with ice and heat compress can come from heating pads.
Placing a cold compress on the area can reduce inflammation and hot compress can keep the muscles relaxed.
However, for the first three days following an acute injury, always use just cold therapy. Don’t start the heat therapy until after that time as the heat may cause the swelling to increase.
To perform hot and cold therapy, simply apply heat for five minutes, then cold for about five minutes. This cycle of hot/cold treatment should be conducted for 20 to 30 minutes and repeated every two to three hours for best stiff neck relief.