A stiff neck can cause pain and discomfort, disrupting your normal daily activities. It is much more common than most people realize.
Causes of Neck Stiffness
One reason that neck stiffness is so prevalent in the modern day is because of the amount of time we spend looking at screens. Computers, tablets, phones, and televisions have us craning our necks at unnatural angles for extended periods of time.
In addition to screen usage, driving for an extended amount of time or other prolonged activities that alter natural neck and spinal positions can contribute to neck stiffness.
These unnatural angles cause the muscles in our necks to become irritated and inflamed. And because the neck is part of our spinal column, neck strain can frequently lead to headaches, back pain, and irritation across many other areas of the body.
Chronic Neck Stiffness
If activities that strain your neck are part of your daily routine then they can lead to chronic neck stiffness, which may have longer-term effects on your posture and spinal health.
Sudden Neck Stiffness
In some cases, people can also experience a stiff neck directly after an event that causes extreme stress to the head, neck or spine, especially when the head or neck rapidly stops or changes direction in motion.
Some examples of this are neck stiffness following a car accident, roller coaster ride, or certain athletic activities. This type of stiff neck pain may be more severe depending on how extreme or stressful the event that caused it was.
Ways to Prevent and Treat a Stiff Neck
There are several steps you can take to prevent neck stiffness and ease any neck pain that you are already experiencing.
Create Neck-Friendly Workspaces
One way to prevent neck pain is to create an ergonomic workspace for any activities that cause you neck strain.
If you spend most of your day at a desk, make sure that your seat is at a correct height to support good posture. Your feet should rest flat on the floor and your desk should be at the same level as your arms.
When using a computer, your screen should be at eye level so it can be viewed with your neck in a neutral position. Additionally, you should periodically take short breaks to stand up and move around throughout the day.
Limit Screen Time
This may be a difficult one for many of us since we rely on our phones and other devices so heavily. But even making sure that you take frequent breaks from screens can improve your neck health significantly.
If you are taking a road trip, be sure to take periodic breaks to stop, stretch and walk a bit. You should also adjust your seat, mirrors, and steering wheel before you begin driving to ensure that you are sitting with good posture while you drive.
Stretching can offer a great deal of relief for neck pain and increase the flexibility of muscles in and around your neck so that they are more resilient.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
While many of these techniques can help you ease your neck pain and prevent some neck stress, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the main cause of discomfort.
It is a good idea to consult with a specialist to be sure why you are experiencing a stiff neck
and the best way to remedy it, especially if your pain is very persistent or severe.