A stiff neck causes diminished range of motion and pain, and may be accompanied by headache, earache, shoulder pain, and arm pain. A stiff neck can last anywhere from one day to a few weeks.
In rare cases, a stiff neck can last for months or more, especially when it is caused by a serious underlying cause. If you have any neck pain altoona pa has a wide variety of physicians specializing in cervical spinal disorders, who can help diagnose and treat your symptoms. Here are some causes and treatment options for a stiff neck.
Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis can cause stiffness and pain in your neck. Osteoarthritis of the cervical spine can irritate the nerve root of the neck and upper back and may also accompany degenerative disorders of the cervical discs. In addition to pain and stiffness in your neck, cervical osteoarthritis can also cause referred pain to your shoulder and upper back.
When nerve roots are irritated or damaged, you may also experience numbness and tingling sensations in your arm, an unsteady gait, and pain in your spine. Treatments for a stiff neck include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, the application of heat, immobilization with a cervical collar, and rest. If your stiff neck is caused by a bulging disc, surgery may be needed to repair the herniation.
Strains And Sprains
Other common causes of a stiff neck are strains and sprains. If you carry a heavy backpack or purse, you may stretch or strain the muscles on the side of your neck, leading to stiffness, inflammation of the fascia, and severe pain. Also, talking on your phone while holding it between your neck and shoulder can also cause a stiff neck, as can sleeping in an awkward position.
Another “newer” diagnosis for neck strain is called “text neck.” This cervical condition causes neck stiffness and pain as a result of looking down at your phone and texting for extended periods of time. Neck strains and sprains are often treated with alternating therapies of hot and cold.
Cold therapy with ice packs is typically recommended during the acute phase, and after a couple of days, heat therapy with a heating pad will help enhance blood flow to the painful area, diminishing your pain and improving your range of motion.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, your neck may have been violently whipped back and forth during the impact.
While whiplash injuries typically occur in car accidents, they can also occur during other types of physical trauma such as a sports-related accident.
You may have a delayed response to a whiplash, meaning that you may not experience severe pain right away. You may only experience minor discomfort or a stiff neck. The most common treatment for a whiplash injury is immobilization with a cervical collar.
Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help reduce the risk for further injury, relieve pain, and restore neck mobility. Your doctor may also prescribe pain relief medications so that you can perform your therapy exercises more comfortably.
To learn more about the causes and treatments for a stiff neck, make an appointment with your healthcare professional.