A stiff neck is difficult enough to endure; but what if your stiff neck keeps coming back?
First, let’s define what a stiff neck is. If you feel pain and discomfort whenever you try to move, turn, or flex your neck, then what you have is a stiff neck.
A stiff neck can be more than annoying; it can literally stop you from doing your usual activities. Looking over your shoulder or looking sideways won’t be an easy feat — you’d need to move your entire body instead of just moving your head.
A stiff neck can come with headaches and shoulder or arm pain. You don’t have to worry, though, because with the proper care, right medication, and sufficient rest, a stiff neck is expected to heal.
Stiff Neck Keeps Coming Back! Here’s What You Should Do
There are different ways on how you can relieve your stiff neck. If you find yourself complaining that your stiff neck keeps coming back, try out these suggestions.
Massages and stretches
Aside from being stress-relieving and relaxing in general, a massage can ease the pain of a stiff neck and even tense shoulders.
Read more: 10 Relaxing Exercises For Neck And Shoulders
You can perform proper stretching to avoid having a stiff neck. These include squeezing your shoulder blades together, bringing your ears towards your shoulder, rolling your shoulders, and pushing your head backwards.
Here are two simple yet effective self-massage and relaxation exercises you can try if stiff neck keeps coming back. NB!! Just make sure you consult your doctor before trying any of these exercises.
1. A self massage exercise for a stiff neck
2. Relieve muscle tension on the sides of the neck
Find more simple neck relaxation exercises you can do at home from our exercise video library.
Heat and/or ice can be applied to the affected area. Ice can be used for the first 72 hours, while heat can be administered through heating pads, hot compresses, or hot showers.
Stiff neck sufferers often go by topical analgesics to feel better — examples include menthol balms and soothing creams. Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid may also help relieve the pain when stiff neck keeps coming back.
Meditation can help cure neck pain caused by stress, as it’s a good method of eliminating stress and anxiety. There are different ways to meditate; you just have to find out which method you prefer the most.
Relax! Doing so will alleviate the chances of stiff neck coming back. Identify and avoid your stress triggers so you can lower the risk of having a recurring stiff neck.
Other dos and don’ts
Your stiff neck may also be caused by your sleeping position and sleep regimen. Take note of the following:
- Don’t sleep on your stomach because you may twist your head. Not having enough support may also affect your lower back, leading to neck pain.
- Rest. Sometimes all your body needs is a good R&R. It may be a sign for you to take a breather, allowing your neck tissues to heal.
Causes of Frequent Stiff Neck
As mentioned, a stiff neck shouldn’t take long to heal. On the other hand, if neck stiffness is caused by a disease or a disorder in one’s neck structure, then stiff neck may recur.
Here are some common causes of neck stiffness.
You may not have realized it yet, but your everyday activities such as slouching, placing your neck in an awkward position while sleeping, and turning your head repeatedly can strain your levator scapulae muscle, located at your back and at the side of your neck, which connects your shoulder with your neck’s cervical spine. If you don’t see these as stiff neck triggers, then the stiffness may end up happening again and again.
Excessive stress and anxiety can bring tension on your neck and cause stiffness as well. Neck pain that’s induced by stress is made worse by emotional and psychological factors.
There are times when physical treatment is not enough — psychological and mental conditioning may also be required.
On the other hand, here are some uncommon stiff neck causes.
Cervical osteoarthritis, more referred to as neck arthritis, takes place when a joint’s protective cartilage breaks down, resulting to a painful and swollen joint. This causes neck pain, along with radiating pain, headaches, and other symptoms.
Cervical herniated disc
Your neck has discs, and when its inner core leaks out or herniates, a cervical herniated disc happens. Even small herniations can bring significant pain because of the small space available for nerves.
Degenerative disc disease
This develops when the discs that cushion the cervical spine begin to wear and tear. The degeneration is often caused by loss of hydration, giving it a higher risk for cracks and tears, and failure to repair itself completely.
Neck stiffness can be caused by various factors — those above are just some of them. Neck muscles can get weaker, and joints fail to move smoothly when you turn your head. Your body will naturally defend itself, and so your neck gets stiff and iclenches so you can’t move another muscle.
When to Visit a Doctor
A stiff neck may feel like a mere annoyance that’ll go away on its own, but it may actually be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
Take note of these red flags. If you experience these with the stiffness, then you may need further medical attention.
- Throwing up or nausea
- Headaches with intensities and duration that differ from your previous ones
- Problems with writing or walking, i.e. coordination issues
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Weight loss not caused by changes in your diet
- Mental state changes, e.g. mood swings or confusion
- Fever, which often indicates the presence of an infection
Note, however, that the aforementioned conditions do not instantly indicate a grave medical condition — you’re only required to receive medical attention.
In addition, if you’re experiencing symptoms that seem simple yet you don’t see any improvement or haven’t recovered from them after a week, then you should get yourself checked by a medical professional.
There are different reasons for a recurring stiff neck. Sometimes stiff neck keeps coming back due to stress, improper posture, or an underlying illness. Regardless of the reason, if your stiff neck keeps coming back, it’s important to get yourself checked by a doctor.
The bottom line: A stiff neck may sound harmless compared to other painful conditions — after all, it should go away after a week, at most — but if stiff neck keeps coming back, then consult a medical professional to see if you require further treatment.