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Is your neck stiffness keeping you from turning your head to drive or sleeping through the night?

Neck stiffness can sometimes be a bit “sneaky.” I say this because many times the muscles surrounding the neck become tight gradually, but sometimes this occurs overnight when sleeping in a bad position or from something you did the day before. All of the sudden you realize that you cannot turn your head to see what is coming beside you or from behind when you drive. You end up needing to turn your entire body so that the neck does not have to move.

As the muscles surrounding the neck become more stiff and restricted, they become inflamed and painful. This especially occurs at nighttime because as your body lies down to rest, there is less oxygenated blood traveling to the muscles. This results in an increase in tightness and stiffness of the muscles, which then leads to restless sleep and frequent waking due to pain. Ultimately, this lack of sleep leads to slowed healing time and generally a sour attitude!

Besides the loss of sleep and ability to turn your head, stiffness of the neck also limits your ability to look up and down, and can lead to neck and radiating arm pain and/or headaches if it is not dealt with and resolved. Sleeping on your stomach in bed also is a contributing factor to neck stiffness and pain because it requires you to lie with your head turned to one side or the other for long periods at a time, which places excess pressure on the spine and its joints.

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If you start to notice one day that you have difficulty turning your head and neck while driving, to see who is behind or beside you, or, you start getting headaches in the back of the head, pain that wakes you at night, or you develop neck pain that also travels down your arm, what do you do next?

The best way to rid yourself of the neck stiffness, pain and headaches is to work with one of the expert physical therapists at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy. They will help you to loosen up the neck joints to regain full mobility at the neck, keep you from waking at night with pain, and allow you to turn your head when driving and talking to people, instead of turning you entire body to compensate.

  • Call my office at 717-245-0400 to schedule a free phone consultation with me so we can discuss your situation to see what’s best for you.
  • Call my office to schedule your one-on-one, private, free screen so that we can listen to the issues you are having and tell you how to best resolve them
  • Send me an email at smiller@cardinmillerpt.com and let’s chat about the issues you are having, and I can tell you the next best step to helping you get back to living life.

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* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Steve Miller has more than 20 years of experience providing physical therapy and pedorthic services and is the co-owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy. His column appears bi-weekly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and online at Cumberlink.com

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