Common causes of stiff neck, ways to treat it

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

According to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20 percent of us have experienced neck pain within the past 3 months. But knowing the source of the pain can put you and your stiff neck on the road to relief. Cleveland Clinic chiropractor Dr. Andrew Bang says a stiff neck is typically the result of muscles weakening over time.

"Now they're weak and you go to turn and instead of the joint nicely moving it's now out of place. Then it catches on something and pulls a muscle or hits the nerve irregularly and then you'll have instant pain and your body will, we call it 'protective spasm.' It doesn't want you to get hurt more, so it will (crunching noise) and now you're like 'Oh, I can't even move.' And you're wondering what you did," Bang explained.

He says doing things like looking down at your computer monitor each day will cause the muscles around the joints to get tired. Your monitor should be at eye level and your head straight.

Driving for long periods of time or looking at your smart phone can have the same effect. If you're doing this day after day it adds up and can displace the joint.

Bang says if your neck is bothering you, you should also pay attention to your sleep positions. He says to only sleep on your side or on your back and never on your stomach.

"Because you end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time as well as, it can affect your low back because your belly like sinks in to the bed if you don't have enough support," Bang said.

Bang says the key to relief for a stiff neck is proper stretching and manipulation. He says if the pain gets in the way of your daily activities call your doctor.

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