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Your everyday routine can be tough on your neck. And your neck has a hard job.

Every day, it has to fight against the relentless downward tug of gravity on your head. When your neck is out of sorts, it can throw life out of whack. A stiff, painful neck can make even the slightest motion difficult, and that, in turn, can hinder your ability to drive, work, exercise and relax.

Fortunately, many stiff necks aren't because of disease, infection or problems with the spine, but instead to muscle strains from activities that are regular parts of your day. Here's what you should -- and shouldn't -- do to limit neck pain:

• Do work wisely -- Even jobs that don't seem physically demanding, such as office work in front of a computer, can tax the neck. If you work at a desk, position your computer so it's level with your eyes; if it's too high or low, you'll subject your neck to hours of subtle straining.

• Don't forget to stretch -- Throughout your day, especially the workday, take a few minutes every hour to gently roll your neck in a circle and stretch it on each side with the opposite hand reaching toward the ground.

• Do scrutinize how you sleep -- Back and side sleeping are better for the neck. Reposing on the stomach puts the neck and spine in an awkward position.

• Don't make any sudden movements (if you can help it) -- Swift, unexpected twists and turns, especially while exercising, can stress the muscles of the neck.

• Do give your neck a break if it's stiff -- Minimize your physical activity for a few days to rest your neck muscles.

• Don't stop moving your neck, even if you're minimizing exercise -- Slowly rotating the neck helps loosen the muscles and maintain range of motion. The American College of Rheumatology suggests trying this exercise during a warm shower, when the neck may be easier to move.

• Do seek help for pain that keeps hanging on -- If a week of resting, stretching the neck, applying ice and heat, and taking over-the-counter pain medication doesn't relieve a stiff neck, the National Institutes of Health recommends speaking with your physician.

It can be difficult to look on the bright side when your neck hurts, but remember this: Most stiff necks don't last long. They usually get better in two weeks or less, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Northwest Health Occupational Medicine is a full service occupational health clinic providing a comprehensive approach to managing workplace injuries with a focus on recovery of function and returning the injured employee to the workplace as soon as possible. Services include physical exams, DOTs, work-related injury care, rehabilitation, preventive health services, work consultation, drug screenings and more. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 479-215-3090 today.

Take five: Posture pointers

Whether you're moving or stationary, standing or sitting, good posture is paramount. It improves balance and flexibility, helps maintain mobility, strengthens muscles, and prevents injury during exercise while, potentially, boosting athletic performance.

How can you perfect your posture? Start with these tips:

1. Practice in front of a mirror. Spend a few minutes each day modeling good posture. Stand up straight with your chin parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders, arms, hips and knees aligned, balancing your weight between both feet. When sitting, follow the same principles of keeping the body straight, even and squared toward the front, with both feet on the ground.

2. Keep posture top of mind. Whether sitting at a computer, standing in line at the grocery store, walking or driving, be mindful of posture and correct it, as needed.

3. Strengthen your core. As the bridge that links the upper and lower body, the core is the foundation of good posture. Keep it strong and healthy by making core strengthening a focus of your exercise regimen.

4. Stay on the move. Excess weight can throw your body off balance and weaken your core, thereby damaging posture. Exercising on most days of the week can help you maintain a posture-friendly weight.

5. Optimize your office workspace. If you spend your workday in front of a computer, place it at eye height directly in front of you, position your phone and other essential items within easy reaching distance, and be sure your chair cradles the curve of your lower back.

If a joint injury or other orthopedic condition is keeping you from enjoying life the way you used to, turn to Siloam Springs Regional Hospital (SSRH). You don't have to travel far from home. With the skill and experience of Matthew Coker, M.D., independent member of the SSRH Medical Staff, SSRH is a convenient choice for orthopedic services. Dr. Coker and the entire SSRH team are ready to get you back to your life. For more information, call 479-215-3124.

General News on 07/10/2019

Print Headline: How to solve a stiff neck

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