Many people find it way too common to find themselves with annoying neck pain that resulted from a minor injury or leave us retracing our days to identify the culprit cause. If this is you and you aren’t sure if it will go away on its own or if it’s necessary to call a professional, here are some ways to help you decide. You can first try some of the remedies in this article to help relieve that stiff neck at home, but if the pain persists, it may be time to see a trusted chiropractor.
Causes of a Stiff Neck
There are several reasons why we develop a stiff neck. Here are just a few:
- Muscle strain or soft tissue sprain: In this digital age, it is even more common to suffer from a stiff neck due to the way we are always looking down at our phones or slouching while looking at our computer monitors. The neck can also become strained from poor posture, sleeping in an awkward position, or sustaining a sports-related injury.
- Whiplash: Serious neck injuries can lead to whiplash, caused by the head suddenly jerking forward and backward. However, this condition may also be accompanied by back pain, dizziness, headaches, or burning sensations. This is usually related to a car accident or a sports injury.
- Excessive stress or anxiety – Some may not realize the tension in the neck can be caused by new stresses or anxiety. Try to think about what changes had recently occurred before the stiff neck symptoms began.
- Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Arthritis – Cervical spondylosis, or arthritis of the neck, can also cause neck pain and stiffness. A doctor may diagnose this with the help of specific tests, such as an X-ray, MRI scan, and a blood test.
Home Remedies to Try First
When you notice a stiff neck, try some of these remedies to see if the pain will go away within a few days on its own.
- Rest and refrain from turning or causing extra strain for 24 hours
- Apply heat or ice to the injured area. Use ice for the first 48 or 72 hours, then heat after that.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Gently massage the area. Have a partner massage the painful or sore spots. Be cautious not to cause more injury; a chiropractor will be an excellent choice to massage the area for you.
- Slowly stretch out the area by rolling your shoulders or slowly tilting your head toward your shoulders.
What Treatments Will a Chiropractor Perform?
A chiropractor will need to assess and ask questions before deciding on the appropriate treatment options, but here are some possible treatment plans.
- Spinal adjustments – If you have misaligned vertebrae, they may conduct a spinal adjustment to get everything back in place.
- Joint mobilization – This is a skilled manual therapy technique to improve joint range of motion and reduce pain.
- Muscle release techniques – These are soft tissue manipulative methods that stretch tight muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Muscle stimulation – electrical stimulation mild electrical pulses through the skin to help stimulate injured muscles or manipulate nerves to reduce pain.
- Spinal manipulation – This combines moving and jolting joints, physical therapy, and massage to reduce inflammation and relieve the pressure on joints. Ultimately, it is designed to improve nerve function.
Here at Spine Health and Wellness, we will also help you with preventative measures to avoid further neck strain and help you heal at home. Contact us today for an appointment!