Chronic Neck Stiffness

In our age of technology, complaints of chronic neck stiffness are common. After sitting long hours in front of a computer or hanging our head as we scan our cell phones, we start to feel neck stiffness. In most instances we attribute it to tight muscles: but is this truly the cause?

Chronic neck stiffness is the result of more than just fatigued muscles, it is actually a protective measure produced by our brain.

Our brain is more detailed and intricate than the most sophisticated computer available. Every action, movement, sensation from our environment is processed by our brain.  Research has mapped our brain and discovered that every part of our body has a spot in the brain that is responsible for monitoring and controlling all the positions of our joints, muscle tone and controlling our movements.

How Chronic Neck Stiffness Develops

When we consistently limit the movement of our neck, such as sitting at a computer for hours day after day, it begins to change the mapping in our brain. Again, research has demonstrated that the areas of our brain become “smudged” and cannot accurately register the joint position in our neck or the muscle tone.

Since the brain cannot monitor the neck position and movement in a normal way, it cannot accurately control the fine, detailed movement that should be part of our normal neck movement. The results of this lack of control causes our brain to go into a protective mode: tightening of the big muscles of the neck and upper back, particularly the trapezius. With these muscles tightening, we end up with chronic neck stiffness.

How To Help Chronic Neck Stiffness

Since chronic neck stiffness is a protective measure, simple activities like stretching only provide momentary relief.  The answer to chronic neck stiffness is to restore the brains ability to sense and control the fine joint movement and muscle control of the neck. This is accomplished by “reprograming” the nerve input back to the brain.

One of the first steps should be to restore motion to the neck. This can be started by frequent changes of work posture such as changing chair or computer monitor position. Additionally, regularly taking a moment break to move your neck through its normal range of motion is helpful. Simple neck retraction exercises are also good to begin to re-educate the small movements of the neck joints.

Finally, you can increase the effectiveness of the above actions dramatically when combined with specific chiropractic adjustments. Research has demonstrated that adjustments stimulate the nerves in the spinal joints, sending a dramatic impulse along the nerves back to the brain. This in practical application awakens the area of the brain and begins to help with a “reprogramming.”

Since 1984, Dr. Schmaltz has help many people with their neck pain and stiffness. If you are tired of chronic neck stiffness, call (314) 731-4383 or CLICK TO CALL AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT