A stiff neck and nagging neck pain should be taken seriously

February 6, 2014

Daily tasks and a stiff neck just don’t go hand in hand. You don’t need to live with the pain; consult a health professional early on to get help.

A stiff neck and nagging neck pain should be taken seriously

Neck pain

Nothing is more unpleasant than waking up with a stiff neck following a night’s sleep.

  • Neck pain arises without warning and can transform your day into a real nightmare if it becomes chronic.
  • If you neglect to seek help from a health professional to heal the pain, it might just become a recurring problem.

Muscle strain or a spasming muscle?

A stiff neck caused by muscle strain is the result of the contraction of the neck muscles. This can prevent you from properly turning or bowing your head.

More unusual, and also more serious, is the spasmodic stiff neck or dystonia of the neck muscles, which can gradually pull the neck to one side.

Causes of a stiff neck

  • In most cases, a stiff neck is caused by muscular contractions that arise with poor posture while sitting or lying down.
  • Poor posture during sleep can cause a stiff neck upon awakening.
  • A stiff neck can also be caused by an abrupt movement or a trauma, such as whiplash from a car accident.

What to do in case of neck pain

While you are waiting to meet with the doctor who will be treating you, you can do a few things to help relieve the pain and relax your contracted muscles.

  • Stretch out and lay your head down to soothe your cervical column and alleviate the pain.
  • Because heat relaxes your muscles, take a hot bath or apply heating bags purchased from a pharmacy or department store.
  • Consult a kinesiologist or physiotherapist; either will be able to relieve some of your pain through targeted treatments.

When to consult a professional

A stiff neck does not usually pose a danger to the patient, as long as the symptoms remain limited to muscular stiffness and are not chronic.

  • Discomfort lasting any longer than a couple of days or any kind of sharp pain is reason to consult a health professional.
  • In very rare cases, muscular spasms in the neck area may require that a neurologist or a surgeon be consulted.

Stiff necks can generally be treated with medication and exercise.

How to prevent pain at the back of the neck

These days it isn’t unusual for many of us to work while sitting down all day. To prevent neck pain caused by sitting for too long in front of a screen, you may want to follow a few tips.

  • Adopt a proper upright sitting posture and hold the head with the chin at a 90-degree angle to the chest.
  • For sleep, choose a pillow that is neither too hard nor too soft so that the back of your neck is properly positioned.
  • Practice yoga as well as relaxation and stretching exercises to help prevent recurring muscle contractions.
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