How to manage stiff and painful necks


What a pain in the neck!


A common problem we see in the clinic is people coming in with a very rigid and painful neck, and usually they’ll tell us that there wasn’t anything in particular that caused this, they just woke up like this! This type of pain can be pretty concerning for a lot of people, and it can often be really limiting, stopping people from being able to do the simplest tasks with their daily activities! 

While this sucks, and can be extremely painful and scary, we can be quite sure that this pain is not going to hang around forever. In the absence of any physical trauma, or neurological deficits (e.g. weakness or numbness in both arms), this type of neck injury is called a non-specific neck pain. 

What does non- specific neck pain mean? 

All it means is that there is likely a number of different contributing factors that might have led to this pain, but there is no distinguishable damaged structure in your neck. This also means that you won’t have to wait for anything to heal up, you just need to make it through the really painful phase and wait for the irritation to subside back to normal, which usually happens within a week or two. 

The key to manage this issue is to remain as active as tolerated, to recover quicker and remain doing what you love. Even if it’s painful or uncomfortable, it is still perfectly safe to stay moving, and it’s still very difficult to cause any damage to your tissues. If it is too painful for you to complete an activity, try to modify the task to make it more manageable by decreasing the load, taking frequent breaks, or trying to shift your position to find a comfortable one. 


Stiff and painful necks are horrible to experience, but they generally come good quite quickly, and don’t usually lead to any long term disability. If your pain is quite concerning, book in for a thorough assessment with one of our physios to ensure what the best plan going forwards is for you. 


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