If you wake up with a stiff neck or have neck pain after a few hours on your computer, you are not alone. This is called ‘mechanical neck pain’, and it’s very common.
Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, and this type of neck pain can usually be treated easily with fast and durable relief.
Mechanical neck pain can occur after a specific incident but can also appear without an incident, ex: when the neck is put in certain positions that load the cervical spine tissues (discs, joints, nerves, muscles, ligaments) for too long in one direction such as:
Some sports can also cause mechanical neck pain such as:
As a result of the prolonged spinal loading in one direction, the neck tissues/joints can become stiff/blocked, and this can cause neck stiffness or neck pain with or without radiation into the arm or shoulder blade. This type of mechanical neck pain can stay present or come & go until the limitation/blockage has been resolved and the neck movement recovered fully.
Even if mechanical neck pain or neck stiffness doesn’t go away in a few days it is usually not necessary to see a doctor, to wait in the emergency room, to get medication, x-rays or other imaging.
You can see a physiotherapist much sooner, and they have the knowledge and training to examine, identify, and treat these types of mechanical neck problems: most of the time, all you need is just the right exercise.
Physiotherapists who are Certified McKenzie-MDT (see official list on www.McKenzieInstituteCanada.org) have a higher level of expertise and extra training to efficiently find the source of the problem and then teach you how to treat this problem on your own. This will allow you to minimize the use of medication and be independent of a therapist for your condition.
Unlike some health care providers who may offer temporary relief, we strive to provide you with the knowledge and tools to self-treat whenever you need to do so and to also get lasting results.
The best solution to relieve neck pain and stiffness is to properly treat the mechanical condition at the source. The key is to find the right movement/exercise that will reduce the neck’s stiffness and restore its lost mobility.
At the same time, you must avoid the movements or positions that have the opposite effect. Once that is done properly, the pain will subside quickly, and the body will be able to heal on its own.
There are different exercises that help relieve mechanical neck pain and stiffness, but only one of them will be most effective. Try to find the right one that relieves your neck pain and repeat it 10-20 times, but don’t mix them all up, because if you do the wrong exercise, the pain can get worse.
You will know you’ve found the right exercise for you if, as you repeat it, the stiffness and/or pain gradually get better & the movement gets easier. Make sure you stop if the opposite happens or if you start getting pain or numbness in the arm.
If you’re not sure which one you should select in order to relieve your neck pain or stiffness, you can speak to one of our Certified McKenzie Physiotherapists for free on the phone or book an appointment for an evaluation.
If your neck pain or neck stiffness is of mechanical nature, you can relieve your neck pain and neck stiffness quickly and efficiently by finding the proper exercise that relieves the symptoms and improves your neck mobility. Repeat this exercise 5-6 x/day and avoid the opposite movements or positions. If your neck pain and neck stiffness don’t significantly improve over the course of 2-3 days, then you might need a therapist to assist you with the progress.