Neck Stiffness is extremely common and is usually caused by injury to the soft tissue structures of the neck, such as muscle, tendon, ligament or joint. Muscle spasm in the neck, leading to a stiff neck, is usually a protective mechanism which is secondary to an underlying neck problem. This is referred to as ‘Acute Torticollis’ or ‘Wry Neck’.
Symptoms Of Neck Stiffness
A stiff neck is an extremely common symptom, which may be caused by a variety of neck conditions. The symptoms of neck pain and stiffness, which decreases neck movement, can be secondary to several problems, such as a disc prolapse (slipped disc), a facet joint problem, an undiagnosed cervical fracture (broken neck), or another neck problem.
In most cases of Wry Neck, the person wakes up with the painful stiff neck, although occasionally the neck may become stuck following a sudden movement. The head will be held to one side and the neck is too painful to move. Attempting to move the neck will usually make the neck pain worse. In some cases, the pain will radiate up the neck or down to the shoulder area. There may be painful spasm in the neck muscles.
Treatment of Neck Stiffness
Stiff neck can be effectively treated by one of our Physios, who will first determine the cause of the problem.
Dependent on the cause of the problem, likely treatment will include gentle massage and mobilisations (see Manipulation and Mobilisation) which involves the Physiotherapist gently applying pressure to each vertebra in the neck in order to loosen them and allow a greater range of movement.
Another helpful treatment is the use of a heat therapy, to relax the muscles that had previously been in spasm.Gentle stretching exercises (see exercise and movement) may also be introduced to patient treatment to alleviate muscle spasm in the neck.
Our Physiotherapists have a great deal of specific clinical experience in the management of neck related problems.
Our Chartered Physiotherapists may recommend the use of a supportive neck pillow at night to promote correct neck alignment (which we do have in stock in our retail section of the clinic). However, the long term use of neck supports is not advised.
Our team of Physiotherapists will use a variety of evidence based therapies and treatments to help reduce your pain and prevent recurrence.