Neck stiffness is a common symptom of a wide range of issues. In most cases, this symptom is relatively mild and clears up quickly, but there are some issues that can cause neck stiffness to linger. Stiffness in the neck can also be the result of issues with several neck structures. One structure that’s often involved in neck stiffness is the neck muscles. The facet joints at the rear of the cervical or neck vertebrae can also be a site for stiffness in your neck.
How long your neck stiffness lasts typically depends on several factors. One of these is the exact cause of your stiffness. Here are three issues that frequently cause neck stiffness and an estimation of how long they might affect you:
- Minor muscle strain
Muscle strains occur when a muscle is overstretched, and in serious cases, the muscle could be stretched so far that it tears slightly. Mild strains in the neck muscles are fairly common. They can occur when you sleep in a poor position and also a common type of sports injury.
How long neck stiffness from a minor strain takes to heal depends on the severity of the strain. However, most minor strains feel much better after resting the neck for 24 hours, but it can sometimes take up to a week for your stiffness to go away if your strain is in the moderate range.
An issue that’s on the more severe end of the neck muscle strain spectrum is whiplash. This injury is common in car accidents where the vehicle is rear-ended. It happens when the impact causes the head to move violently backward and forward like the cracking of a whip. The violent movement is like the perfect storm for injuring neck muscles.
Neck stiffness from whiplash can take hours or even days to appear, but it can be very severe once it does show up. How long neck stiffness from whiplash can last varies. Some people may have this and other symptoms for a few days or weeks, yet others can take up to three months to recover completely.
- Cervical osteoarthritis
Some issues can cause neck stiffness that lasts for years. An example of such an issue is cervical osteoarthritis. This condition is when the facet joints at the back of the neck vertebrae start to wear out as the body ages. The wearing of these joints makes them harder to move, which creates the feeling of stiffness in the neck.
Cervical osteoarthritis symptoms are progressive, which means they gradually grow worse. Treatment options like physical therapy can help slow the progression of neck stiffness and other osteoarthritis symptoms.
Your neck stiffness might not last as long with help from Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help you treat symptoms from neck muscle strains, whiplash and cervical osteoarthritis. This includes helping you figure out how long your neck stiffness could last and working to decrease your healing time. Our complimentary screenings are the perfect tool to help you learn the cause of your stiffness. We can also build you a personalized treatment plan to help improve neck stiffness faster, which could include methods like:
Are you ready to take the next step to begin getting help with your neck stiffness? Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.