Neck stiffness is a problem that occurs due to reasons such as incorrect sleeping and posture positions and is observed in a large part of the society. Although drug treatment applications are therapeutic in complaints of stiff neck, which occurs in one out of every 3 people, regular physiotherapy exercises are generally very effective in eliminating the problem. This complaint, which reduces the quality of life and restricts the movement of the individual, can be corrected with regular exercise plans.
What Is Neck Eclipse?
Neck stiffness is a problem that occurs especially in the morning and manifests itself with a clear restriction in neck movements. In neck stiffness, due to the excessive tension of the neck muscles, turning the head, laying it on one side, or moving it is extremely painful. Severe pain with neck movement causes a decrease in quality of life and makes it necessary to move the neck as a block with the body.
Why Does A Stiff Neck Occur?
The muscle responsible for neck stiffness is the so-called “levator scapula”. This muscle, located at the back and side of the neck, allows the cervical spine in the neck to join with the shoulder region. The 3rd and 4th nerves in the spine (C3 – C4) are the nerves that control the movement of the muscle and any contraction or problem with these nerves results in the inability to perform normal neck movements.
The most common conditions that can damage the muscle, which is much more sensitive than other muscles in the body, can be listed as follows:
- Reversed sleeping position
- Wrong choice of mattress or pillow
- Sports injuries
- Sudden and hard blows to the area
- Staying in a motionless position in front of the monitor or screen for a long time
- Improper performance of activities with frequent neck movements such as swimming
- Holding an object between the neck and shoulder for a long time
- Excessive stress or anxiety causing muscle tension
Neck stiffness may start suddenly after sports or sudden movements or may occur in the following hours. In cases that are recognised later, it is a little more difficult to determine the exact cause. In addition, most neck stiffness is caused by common causes. In rare cases, another underlying disease affecting the cervical spine may be the main cause of a stiff neck. Problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, pinched nerves, herniated discs, osteoarthritis and emotional stress are included in this group. In some cases, infections such as meningitis may also present with neck pain.
How Does A Stiff Neck Pass?
Neck stiffness caused by ordinary muscle tension usually goes away on its own within a few days, but during this time, the person may experience severe pain associated with movement. Therefore, drug therapy can be applied to relieve pain and relax the muscles in the area. Apart from this, various exercises are recommended to restore the neck muscles to their original state in a shorter time.
In general, the methods applied in the treatment of stiff neck are as follows:
- Medications such as muscle relaxants and painkillers reduce spasm and oedema in the muscles in the area.
- The patient is given a list of exercises that they can do on their own at home. These exercises are determined by physiotherapists and help relieve pain in the area.
- If necessary, the TENS method, which is called electrical nerve stimulation, can be applied as a method that relieves pain by sending electrical signals to the neck area.
- Supporting the neck with a soft neck collar reduces the load on the neck muscle and supports the resolution of the spasm.
- In some cases, various injections (such as mesotherapy, prolotherapy, neural therapy) can be used to relax the aching muscles and reduce pain.
- In rare cases caused by causes such as spinal cord compression, cervical hernia, canal stenosis, surgical evaluation may be required for the treatment of stiff neck.
What Is Good For Stiff Neck?
In addition to these methods, physiotherapy applications and various exercises are sufficient for the treatment of most neck stiffness. Some of the applications that can be applied at home in neck stiffness, which is often caused by keeping the head in an incorrect position for a long time, are as follows:
- Resting by keeping the head in a proper position relieves the pain in the area.
- Especially in the first 24 to 48 hours of pain, hot or cold compresses can be applied to the area. These applications are generally recommended to be done alternately, thus increasing the blood flow in the region and resolving the spasm.
- Neck exercises performed with the support of a physiotherapist help to relieve pain. These exercises are usually applied in the form of relaxing the head by turning it slightly forward, sideways and backwards. Physical therapy exercises are very effective in order to regain mobility in the region.
- Light brisk walks by keeping the head upright and looking straight ahead help to relieve the tension in the neck muscles and accelerate the healing process as it helps to correct the posture.
With the above recommendations, neck stiffness and complaints arising from it are usually resolved within a week. However, in cases where no improvement is observed, there may be other underlying causes. In this case, it is recommended to consult a specialist physician immediately and start the appropriate treatment.