Today I want to talk about one of those things we don’t realize is so important in our lives until it’s not there — full motion in our neck. Just about every activity we do depends on us being about to move our neck and while many things are noticed when they’re gone, I’m always shocked at how little some patients can move their neck.
Now imagine what you can’t do if your neck doesn’t move.
It’s like you’re permanently in an invisible neck brace and can’t move your head in all directions! Scary! Yet this is something many patients entering our office deal with every day.
(Of course some people go through this literally because a doctor has recommended them to wear a brace due to a recent surgery or neck injury. This would be characterized as neck immobility and we should rule this out of our talk.)
What I want you to focus on is neck stiffness, a condition that most people go through on a daily basis whether they know it or not.
The group of you that feel this neck stiffness usually has pain and/or tension in the neck and top of the shoulders, headaches, or numbness/tingling sensations down the arms into the hands and fingers. It eventually gets to a point where you’re turning your entire body to see whatever is on side or behind you.
The truth of the matter is neck stiffness can be very painful, aggravating, and can even be dangerous.
The most common risk is while driving. That’s the first thing I think of when someone has almost no neck range of motion, “How did they drive themselves here?”
Driving rules state you shouldn’t just rely on your mirrors to change lanes, you’re advised to look over you shoulder. Those who can’t turn their head to its full range put themselves and their passengers in danger of not seeing the car in the next lane.
Don’t take this for granted.
There are simple ways to increase you neck range of motion but the first thing you should do is find out why your neck is stiff in the first place. You can say stress from work or kids but I would imagine you would still have this same decreased motion and tension in your muscles while on vacation in the Bahamas, child-free, in line waiting to get a massage.
In actuality, the most common cause of neck stiffness is the restriction of joints in the neck that allow motion. Yes, that massage will help the muscle, meditation will help relieve stress, and over the
counter drugs will cover up the pain. However, better function and mobility in the joints that allow motion will be the most beneficial step in your process to alleviating your neck issues.
Improve your life by improving your function. It’s important, see a chiropractor and get checked. It’s not uncommon for patients to walk in with little to no range of motion and walk out being able to turn their head.