If you wake up with excruciating neck pain, you might be experiencing a stiff neck. Usually, it goes away with some mild exercise, and is often not a cause of concern. Still, if it lingers on for days affecting your everyday life, you might consider a specialist to help you treat and prevent neck pain.
What Causes a Stiff Neck?
Although there can be several reasons, the most common cause of a stiff neck is your sleep posture. You can strain your neck muscles if you:
- Sleep at an awkward angle. If your sleeping position causes your head and neck to remain at an awkward angle; you may develop a stiff neck from sleeping wrong. Studies show that your sleep position can strain your muscles, causing joint stiffness and pain. Stomach sleeping can also cause neck pain in the morning.
- Move around while asleep. If you do not have the best sleeping position, you can move around a lot while sleeping, hurting your neck muscles;
- Have a pre-existing injury. A pre-existing injury in your neck can aggravate while you sleep, causing neck pain.
A stiff neck can also occur because of not having the right pillow and mattress for your bedding needs. Here are some ways your bedding can affect your sleep, and cause soreness in your neck muscles.
- Using wrong pillows: Sleeping on the wrong pillow can prevent you from getting a good night's sleep, and cause stiffness in your neck muscles. Sleeping on a too-firm or soft pillow can bend your neck at an awkward angle throughout the night, straining those neck muscles. Use your pillows the proper way to prevent a painfully stiff neck.
If you are a side sleeper, make sure your pillow is not too high, causing you discomfort during the night. Side sleepers can try a pillow between your legs to help keep your neck and spine genuinely aligned.
A stomach sleeper would need a thin and adjustable pillow to ease their neck muscles to have a comfortable sleep. Using memory foam pillows can provide the right kind of support to give you a restful sleep.
You can use feather pillows, or those made from latex or memory foam that conforms to your neck and shoulder, keeping your body position comfortable. Using organic latex pillows from brands like PlushBeds can give you the resilient bounce of latex ,while molding your neck and head to a more comfortable position. The Wool & Latex side sleeper pillow is one special pillow that will provide all-night comfort, while keeping your neck supported.
- Sleeping on old mattresses: If you find yourself tossing and turning while sleeping, and waking up with a sore neck, your mattress might be the one to be blamed. A too-firm mattress can trigger your pressure points, and cause you to feel pain and stiffness in the morning.
You need to replace your old mattress after six to eight years. If you still sleep on your out-of-shape, lumpy mattress, and wake up tired with a stiff neck, you are sleeping wrong, and it is time for an upgrade.
If you feel confused by the plethora of mattresses available in the market, and wonder which one would be perfect, try this mattress quiz to land the mattress of your dreams.
Some other factors why you might wake up with a stiff neck are:
- Poor posture: Poor posture while walking or standing, spending a prolonged time hunching over your computer, or browsing your mobile phones can strain or hurt your neck and spinal cord, resulting in a stiff or sore neck.
To keep your neck muscles healthy, avoid tucking your phone between your ears and shoulders while talking. Also, exercise your upper body during the day to release tension and get a good night's sleep.
- Minor strain or injury: You can experience aches and pains, including stiff neck muscles from excess physical activity, minor falls, or accidental neck injury. Neck pain can also result from having too much stress, and leading an active lifestyle.
Most neck strains are minor, and go away with regular exercise and pain-relieving medicines. However, persistent neck pains accompanied by stiffness can be due to an underlying serious health issue that requires medical supervision.
When is a Stiff Neck a Severe Issue?
Some instances when a stiff neck would require medical supervision are:
If you suffer from persistent neck pain, or a chronic neck pain, you might have arthritis. Arthritis includes 200 rheumatic diseases that can affect joints, limiting a person's ability to perform everyday tasks.
You may develop arthritis from an injury, infection, genetic makeup, or immune system dysfunction. Treatment involves medication and physical therapy with education and support.
If you have arthritis, you can invest in a 12" Luxury Medium-Firm Mattress from PlushBeds to help with pain and stiffness. This mattress can help you align your spine, and relieve pressure points to reduce pain, helping you enjoy better comfort and sleep.
Swelling from meningitis can cause headaches, stiff neck, and fever. Some other symptoms can be confusion, seizures, sleep disorders, and skin rash. Although most meningitis occurs from a virus infection, some can result from infections of bacteria, fungus, or parasites.
Meningitis can become severe and fatal if not treated promptly with antibiotics. Delaying treatment can cause brain damage, and even death.
A sudden and rapid neck movement like a whip cracking can be the reason for this injury. It can happen from car accidents, sports-related injuries, or neck injuries from a fall.
Most whiplash neck pain gets better with medicines and mild exercise. Chronic pain can cause long-lasting effects, limiting movements, and requiring long-term care and support.
Strain, Sprain, or Spasm
Instances of over-exercising and awkward movements might bring about neck sprains, strains, or spasms that might become severe enough to require a doctor's visit. Some neck injuries can cause painful muscle strain with headache, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and legs that requires medical supervision.
Your doctor might perform physical examinations and require X-rays to locate the pain, and recommend treatment like physical therapy with pain-relieving medications.
You can suffer from backache, stiff neck, leg, and arm pain because of a pinched or compressed nerve. Most symptoms usually go away in time (four to six weeks), while some might require pain medications.
Bone Spur on Spinal Joint
Bones spurs are projections of the bone in your joints where the bones meet. They can also happen on your spine bones. Most bone spurs do not have symptoms, while some might cause joint pains. You must visit a doctor if you have pain or swelling in your joints to get proper treatment.
Treatment for a Stiff Neck
The treatment for your stiff neck depends on the severity of the pain. If you have minor discomfort, you can try the following home remedies:
- Apply ice or heat. You can use an ice pack on swollen neck muscles to get immediate relief. The coldness of an ice pack numbs the pain, and reduces inflammation. An ice pack is best effective within 48 hours of the injury to reduce swelling.
Alternatively, you can use a heating pad for a sore neck. Taking a warm shower, or using heat on neck pain can de-stress muscles, reducing stiffness.
- Resolve sleep issues. You need to get rid of your old and lumpy mattress, and get some ergonomic bedding to resolve your sleep problems. Avoid too-firm or soft pillows, and get some new pillows to adequately align your head, spine, and neck to avoid neck pain.
- Take over-the-counter medicines. Minor aches and pains can be treated using over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and neck pain.
- Practice gentle exercises. You can gently rotate your neck muscles, and do some stretching exercises to relieve the muscle tension and reduce pain. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and slowly turn and roll your shoulders to reduce soreness in the neck area.
- Improve your posture. Slouching while walking and standing, or hunching over your computer can stretch those neck muscles, causing stiffness and pain. Make a conscious effort to maintain a correct posture by aligning your head and neck muscles. You can get some devices to help you improve your posture.
- Get a massage. Getting a massage from a licensed massage therapist can reduce your neck stiffness, providing relief. A recent study claims that massage therapy can significantly reduce pain from neck arthritis.
- Manage your stress. Increased stress levels can strain your neck muscles, causing stiffness and pain. Practicing calming techniques like yoga and meditation can help you with muscle relaxation, and avoiding aches and pains.
- See a dentist. Sometimes, you can get a stiff neck due to jaw tension, because of nighttime teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Visit your dentist to manage the problem to get relief from your neck pain.
When to Visit Your Doctor?
Suppose your neck pain persists for more than a couple of days, and limits your everyday movements. In that case, you need to visit a doctor to rule out serious diseases.
Tips to Prevent Your Neck Pain
You can prevent a stiff neck by doing the following:
- Invest in high-quality bedding to give you comfort and adequate support while sleeping, and help keep your neck aligned. Ensure that your sleeping position allows you to rest comfortably, without causing neck strain, or stiff muscles.
- Avoid sudden movements while walking, running, or exercising to prevent neck injury. You can avoid carrying heavy weights to avoid sudden strain on your neck muscles.
- Develop better posture while walking, reading, or using the computer to prevent neck injury.
- Reduce overall stress and anxiety.
- Practice light stretching exercises for your neck to keep it agile, and healthy.
Here at PlushBeds, we offer this mattress quiz to help you find the perfect mattress for your situation. Take the mattress quiz today, and call us should you have any questions.
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