Neck Pain from a Stiff Neck
When you have a stiff neck in the morning, or maybe a chronic kink in the neck, there is some pain associated with that stiffness. You may have difficult moving your neck and turning it from side to side, as well as a persistent headache, neck pain, and possibly shoulder or arm pain. There are a few causes of neck pain and stiff neck which can be tiresome.
What Causes a Stiff Neck?
The most common cause of a stiff neck is muscle strain of the levator scapulae, which connects the top of your neck to your shoulder. Usually this is strained through sleeping in a bad position, repetitive motion, slouching while looking at a computer or phone for a long period, or even excess stress.
Other causes of neck pain can be a cervical herniated disc, which happens when a disc in your spinal column weakens and the inner nucleus bulges out putting pressure on a nerve in your neck. Osteoarthritis can also cause pain in the neck when arthritic breakdown of your cervical facet joints occur possibly causing a pinching of the neck nerves.
How to Fix a Stiff Neck
Sometimes a stiff neck will go away on its own in a day or two if the symptoms are light. If the kink in the neck is caused by improper sitting or staring at a computer / phone all day, you can adjust how you view your monitor. Avoid tilting and twisting your head down or to the side, and make sure you sit up straight with the monitor at eye level. Try not to have your neck bent for long periods of time if viewing your phone.
How to Sleep with a Stiff Neck
Sleeping with a stiff neck can be bothersome, since certain positions may cause your pain to flare up worse than it was initially. Sleeping on the back or side is recommended, since it keeps your neck supported and in place throughout the night. Sleeping on your stomach often causes your head to turn and gives you lack of support along your spine.
What is Good for Stiff Neck Pain Relief?
You can try some exercises and stretches to relieve a stiff neck caused by muscle strain. These include rolling your shoulders, squeezing your shoulder blades together, and bringing your ear to your shoulder on each side. You will want to be gentle with your neck, especially if you are experiencing pain.
You can also apply heating / ice pads to the effected area to try to reduce pain and inflammation. Gentle massages may also help the strained neck muscle.
If the pain is caused by a herniated disc or pinched nerve, the pain relief may be sought in the form of NSAIDs oral medication, or ibuprofen. There are injections that can be administered to relieve pain as well if it’s very severe. The relief from these cervical injections can last anywhere from a few weeks up to a year, which can give you enough time to fix the underlying issue.
How Long Does a Stiff Neck Last?
The length of stiff neck symptoms depend on what is the underlying cause. Muscle strain symptoms might only last a couple days to a couple weeks, but if the neck pain is caused by a herniated disc or degenerative disc it can be chronic, and last months to years. You’ll want to see a doctor if you suspect a herniated disc, and your doctor may order an MRI to properly diagnose.