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Stiff Neck Causes & Treatments

neck massage

As so many situations may arise leading to stiffness of the neck or neck pain, stiff necks are one of the most commonly treated ailments in today’s society. Sitting at a computer for long hours during the day, sleeping improperly at night, being involved in a car collision, or even jolting the neck suddenly from a quick movement can result in muscle stiffness and pain. If you are suffering from neck discomfort, whether chronic or acute, know that a chiropractor can help to relieve your pain. Neck stiffness is generally described as a difficulty moving the neck accompanied by soreness, pain, headache, and/or arm or shoulder pain.

As a master of spinal alignment and spinal treatments, a chiropractic practitioner may be a good choice for treating neck stiffness and pain. If you are looking for a drug-free, holistic way to improve your discomfort, then contact Atlas Total Health Chiropractic by calling (866) 668-0108 or contacting us online to schedule a consultation. Discover what we can do for you to assist you with feeling better and restore you to optimal health.

Can a Chiropractor Fix a Stiff Neck?

Many of our patients come to us with complaints of neck pain and stiffness of the neck. Neck stiffness may lead to muscle tightness, headaches, reduced mobility, and debilitating pain. Stiff necks are most commonly due to bad posture and muscle tension caused by activities such as sleeping in awkward positions, overexerting muscles, or spending too much time on a computer or other screen. Neck stiffness and pain may also be caused by working out, heaving, lifting, or other strenuous activities. Below are some other contributing factors that may lead to neck pain.

Muscle Strains

Stiff necks may be induced easily by wearing out the muscles from bending to look at electronic devices or holding an unnatural position for a long time. As this issue has been increasingly prevalent, it has been colloquially called ‘text neck’ or ‘tech neck.’ Overstretching muscles may lead to muscle tearing, inflammation, and swelling along the neck. If you feel pain when moving your head, you may have muscle strain in the neck.

Worn Joints

Joints may easily become overtaxed with age, leading to arthritis of the neck or cervical spondylosis. Wear and tear to the neck may result in weakening and dwindling of the spine and a loss of motion. Around 85% of the elderly population will experience osteoarthritis. If you experience pain when turning your head, headaches, numbness, and weakness, you may be experiencing arthritis of the neck.

Nerve Compression

A pinched nerve, otherwise known as cervical radiculopathy, may cause pain or stiffness in the neck, upper back, shoulders, or arms. Additionally, you may experience numbness and weakness. A pinched nerve is often accompanied by burning or sharp shooting pains down the arm from the neck, which may be worsened by movements, such as turning the head.


Experiencing stiff neck or neck pain may also be associated with an injury, such as whiplash. Whiplash is an injury that occurs from a sudden jolting of the head and may arise from a fall, sports injury, or car collision.

Sleep Positions

It is not uncommon to experience neck pain or stiffness from sleeping in an improper position. Sleeping on the back or sides is the best opportunity for cervical support. Additionally, rounded pillows that support the crevice of the neck are recommended, as well as avoiding overly large or firm pillows.

Heavy Lifting

Heavy lifting, such as moving furniture or lifting weights, may lead to a neck injury and muscle strain. Ensure that you use proper lifting practices by attempting to lift from your center of gravity and use your legs and hips to pick up heavy items rather than your back.


Diseases, especially diseases that are associated with inflammation, such as meningitis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to neck pain.

At- Home Stiff Neck Treatments

Although it may seem counterintuitive to work these muscles when experiencing pain, exercise will aid in reducing neck stiffness and pain. Gentle activities such as stretching, yoga, or swimming may reduce the risk of chronic pain after an injury. Strengthening exercises and stretching have shown positive results. Additionally, applying a heating pad or ice pack may help with inflammation and reduce pain. Ice will reduce swelling, and heat will help increase blood flow. After an injury, do not immediately apply heat, as this may cause further damage. Applying cold or heat for 15-20 minutes at a time is sufficient.

Chiropractic Stiff Neck Treatments

Chiropractic stiff neck treatments are non-surgical, non-invasive, and drug-free. Most chiropractic practitioners will utilize a combination of therapies and techniques, including but not limited to:

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation involves the moving and jolting of joints to reduce inflammation and relieve tension and pressure on the joints. Spinal manipulation is designed to improve nerve function. Spinal manipulation may be used in conjunction with massage and physical therapy to achieve desired results.

Flexion Distraction Technique

Flexion distraction involves putting pressure on the spine to resolve bulges and disc herniations while reducing inflammation.

Instrument-Assisted Manipulation

Handheld instruments may be used during manipulation to apply additional force to the spine. Other interventions ay accompany these treatments.

Stiff Neck Chiropractic Adjustment

If you have been experiencing pain and stiffness of the neck for over a week, you should seek medical evaluation. In addition, you should see a medical professional immediately if you are experiencing any red flag symptoms in addition to neck pain and stiffness, such as nausea, vomiting, lethargy, or fever, as you may be suffering from a serious disease such as meningitis.

However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, consider booking a consultation with a chiropractor right away:

  • Neck pain and stiffness for more than a few days
  • Relying on over-the-counter medications to manage neck pain
  • Unable to turn your head without pain
  • Experiencing numbness or tingling of the arms alongside neck pain

Contact Atlas Total Health by calling (866) 668-0108 or contacting us online to schedule your consultation. Discover what we can do for you to assist you with feeling better and restore you to optimal health.