Stiff Neck Symptoms and Causes

By Debra Rodzinak

If you have ever had a stiff or sore neck, you know the aggravation of trying to turn your head or perform daily activities.  Often accompanying a stiff neck can be a headache, arm or shoulder pain, or a “Frankenstein” type of positioning where you have to turn your entire body just to look to the side.  Symptoms of a stiff or sore neck can last a few days or even a week and pain can range from a mild irritation to extreme pain that limits your ability to function.

In a very few instances, a stiff neck is caused by a serious condition, but most episodes of a stiff neck and pain subside quickly due to the ability of the cervical spine to heal the cause of stiffness.  Some of these causes include muscle strain, trauma, and cervical spinal disorders.

Muscle Strain

Several activities can strain the neck.  Hunched over a desk or forward to see a computer monitor for endless hours can cause neck strain.  Driving in an awkward position while hunched over can also cause neck strain.  Any time when the posture of the neck is not proper, the chance of developing a strained or stiff neck increases.  Even talking with a phone between the shoulder and ear can add to a stiff neck.  Other common daily tasks that you may not think of can also cause neck strain, such as keeping a heavy purse hanging on one shoulder or sleeping on too may pillows. 

Trauma

Car accidents, falls, or any type of injury that causes the head to violently jerk forward can cause the neck to become injured.  Whiplash is a common injury to the neck that can cause stiffness and pain.

Cervical Spinal Disorders

If other problems with the spine are present, such as the facet joints being too inflexible, the resulting problems can develop in the neck.  Disc problems can be caused from bulging, degenerative, or herniated discs.  With these types of problems, the symptoms can be pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling. 

If you suffer from a stiff or painful neck, go to your physician to ensure that it is not something more severe, like meningitis.  Then, come to The Joint for a gentle spinal adjustment to ensure that the joints and discs of the cervical spine are in alignment.  Proper alignment allows the cervical spine to begin the healing process.

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