What are the treatment options for a stiff neck?

The human spine can be divided into three main sections, from top to bottom: the cervical spine (corresponding to the neck), the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine.

Stiffness in the neck is a problem that affects the cervical region of the spine, and the reasons for its onset are varied.

Causes

A stiff neck may occur for any of the following reasons:

  • A pinched nerve, that occurs due to disc places unwanted pressure on the nerve roots in the neck.
  • Bone spurs, which are tiny bone formations that form outside of the normal structure of the bone, may place pressure on the spinal structure of the cervical region and lead to stiffness in the neck, headaches, and neck pain.
  • Facet joint syndrome. Because facet joints are responsible for providing the range of motion in the spine, when they suffer from degeneration, this range of motion can then be limited.
  • Having a poor posture where the neck is bent in an unfavourable angle (such as hunching over one’s desk, computer, or phone) for prolonged periods of time. Whether it happens when a person is sitting down, standing up, or laying down, poor posture can affect the alignment of the structures in the neck and place unnecessary strain on the region, which may lead to neck stiffness.
  • Sleeping in a position that places increased pressure on the neck.
  • Injury to the soft tissues of the neck. Muscle strain and muscle spasms are two of the most common soft tissue problems attributed to neck pain.
  • Sudden trauma to the neck, which may affect more than the soft tissues, and damage the bones, or even the spinal cord or spinal nerves that run through the spine.

Symptoms

A stiff neck is mainly characterised due to its main symptoms: stiffness. In other words, this presents itself as limited range of motion in the neck. For example, a person may be unable to turn his/her head to look sideways, and he/she has to turn his/her entire torso, or even body to look in a different direction.

The stiffness can occur by itself, or it can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain in the neck, or headaches. The pain can be local, or it can spread to other areas of the body, for example an arm or hand.

Diagnosis

In a lot of cases, a stiff neck is not something to worry about, as it can be caused by daily habits that are easily fixable, such as sleeping in an unfavourable position overnight. Needless to say, neck pain that is caused by such factors tends to go away by itself.

However, there are more severe causes that may lead to a stiff neck, and that is when the issue should be investigated.

Obtaining a diagnosis is the first step to be taken before proceeding to any form of treatment. It is important to determine the exact cause of the symptoms a patient experiences as this will influence the type of treatment, he/she will receive.

A diagnosis process usually starts with a physical examination, where a specialist will examine the affected area, and ask relevant questions in relation to the symptoms a patient experiences. If the results from the physical examination are not conclusive, further tests/scans might be suggested to the patient.

Treatment

Following the diagnosis process, one or more of the following treatments may be suggested:

  • Applying an ice pack to the affected area, if the stiff neck is accompanied by inflammation and pain. This can temporarily alleviate pain and reduce inflammation until further help is sought out, provided that the pain and stiffness do not subside by themselves with the passage of a short amount of time.
  • Seeking help from a physical therapist. Physical therapy can be highly beneficial for those whose stiff neck has been caused by a mechanical injury or spinal disorder, such as herniated discs, or impinged nerves.
  • Pain relievers to relieve neck pain (if there is any).
  • Rest. Avoid placing any additional strain on a stiff neck and allow some time for the stiffness to subside.
  • Surgical intervention. This should only be considered as a last resort and for extreme cases who failed to respond to more conservative forms of treatment.
  • Using a spinal decompression device:

 

Spinal Backrack Technology

If you want to restore the natural shape of your neck and take your recovery from a stiff neck to the next level, try the Spinal Backrack!

It’s a patented class I medical device, that can provide long-lasting pain relief without causing any side effects. It has been carefully engineered by the brightest minds on Harley Street to give you the best possible comfort and results, and can work even on cases of chronic neck pain.

Its aim is to treat neck problems from the source. By following specific exercise programs using the Backrack, you can decompress your spine, relieve pressure in your back, restore mobility to the cervical spine and leave your symptoms in the past!

With only 20 minutes of exercise a day, recovery from neck stiffness and pain has never been easier!

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