A stiff neck is one of the most common complaints people come to chiropractors with. Most likely you have experienced a stiff neck or tenderness when pressing around the muscle of your neck.
And no wonder! An adult head weighs between 10-14 pounds, or around 5 kilos. To put that into perspective, at the upper end, this is the weight of a bowling ball! This gives a good indication of how strong your neck muscles must be and the demand that is constantly placed upon them.
There are number of things that can cause a stiff neck. The most common is strain or sprain. This kind of damage tends to occur to the levator scapula, the muscle connecting your neck to your shoulder. This can make it uncomfortable for you to turn your head from side to side, up and down, or even tilt it from side to side.
Most people notice a stiff neck first thing in the morning after waking. This is not a surprise, since a muscle sprain or strain can occur simply from holding your neck in an unusual position for a sustained period of time. People who sleep on their fronts with their head effectively forced to one side for around 8 hours are some of the most frequent sufferers! Stiff necks following sleep can also be caused by using an improper pillow; one that is too high or too flat and does not adequately support the neck.
As well as these common nocturnal causes of neck stiffness, our day jobs could also be to blame. Holding your neck too far forward when staring at a computer screen during the day can place undue stress on the neck muscles. The same goes for watching television and using mobile devices.
Aside from these common causes, neck pain can also be caused by injury. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of your head in any direction. It often occurs after a sudden impact such as a road traffic accident. The vigorous movement of your head can overstretch and damage the tendons and ligaments in your neck. As well as neck pain and stiffness, whiplash can cause tenderness in your neck muscles, reduced, painful neck movements and headaches.
The good news is that neck stiffness is not usually serious and soreness can go away within a few days. The better news is that chiropractic adjustment can help to stimulate the healing process and correct any misalignments that can be contributing to pain.