What is a neck contracture?

A neck contracture or also known as cervical contraction, is a muscle contracture that occurs throughout the neck area or a specific musclein it. It usually occurs because the muscular blood vessels contract, hindering blood flow and causing this contracture.

As a result, the contraction of the neckcauses uncontrollable muscle pain, which with the constant movements of daily activities, worsens the situation for the person who suffers it, extending to the cervical spine.

Note: One study mentions that “The muscles that are most frequently affected by contracture are the trapezius muscles (the most superficial in the posterior neck area) and the levator scapula”. (1)

What are the causes of a neck contracture?

The contraction of the neckhas many causes, it is almost not closely related to genetic pathologies, but to the physical and even mental activities of people. We present the main causes of this type of contracture:

1. Improper posture

It is in itself the main and recurring cause of a neck contracture, since The posture is essential for our body and its surroundings.

It must be remembered that poor posture results in increased muscle tension, as well as greater compression on the nerves of the neck muscles. The risks, beyond a cervical contracture, can lead toproblems in the cervical spine or in the hands and arms.

Important: Experts such as Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, agree that “Forced postures include fixed or restricted body positions, postures that overload the muscle and tendons.” (two)

2. Whiplash

Also known as whiplash syndrome, it is one of the most common conditions caused by accidents or injuries.

It is caused by a literally rapid movement of the neck forwards or also backwards (like the force of a whip), leading to the same thing, a painful injury due to muscle tear. It happens a lot in traffic accidents, careless sports or in certain work areas.

Note: A brief analysis adds the following: “The impact induces excessive flexion of the neck and, just after, the reaction force causes its full extension.” (3)

3. Sudden efforts

This is a fairly certain causeand one that many of us have suffered, correct? It is not for less, sudden efforts are very frequent to suffer from a neck contracture.

In this sense, efforts can be made (without awareness) in interactive activities such as sports without warming up, sudden movements with the neck and also carrying heavy things, remembering that this causes greater weight for the cervical area and all its surroundings.

To highlight: Some Tingling or cramping in the muscles can be felt as a warning symptom, but do not doubt that it means that you are doing something wrong.

4. Weakened muscles

Beyond a muscle lacking exercise or vitamins and iron, it can be weakened by the cause of various conditions , this is also known as muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is when certain diseases progressively weaken tissues and muscle mass. It is considered as a kind of mutation, which directly interferes with the production of proteins in these tissues, although there is no cure, if there are drugs to relieve symptoms and pain.

5. Stress

Stress is a state of mind, but incredibly it can affect your neck muscles more than you might think.

Highly serious stress situations can cause, in addition to neck contracture, muscle tension or numbness of the muscle and tendons. Even stress causes pain in different areas such as the jaw, shoulders and back on a constant basis.

What symptoms does a neck contracture have?

Recognizing the contraction of the neck is not really difficult, the symptoms are key and cannot be confused with other situations (due to the area where it occurs). Therefore, we present the main symptoms:

1. Pain and stiffness

Pain and stiffness are constant when suffering from severe neck paintag. The pain is commonly present in the upper neck (which may also feel numb).

The slight stiff movement causes a sting that automatically affects the nerve in this area (see turning around or doing different head movements).

2. Headache, dizziness and vertigo

If certain breaks and reliefsare not taken, you can feel different headaches or dizziness constantly. This is caused by the deep concern that the person feels, it is similar to a stressful situation.

Important: It should be noted that if this is prolonged without any proper treatment, you may suffer from intense dizziness and constant vertigotag. And to tell you the truth, it’s not a reassuring situation, you have to stay calm at this point.

3. Tingling

Do you remember when a muscle falls asleep and you feel almost absolutely nothing in that area? This is the case with a muscle contracture in the neck but different.

In some cases, some tingling may be felt in or around the upper neck, near the shoulders. Why happens? Due to the decay of the nerves or a stoppage of blood flow in a specific area.

Note: Although it is not always due to a disease, you should be alert if it is very frequent.

4. Fatigue

Finally, fatigue may occur, again due to the state of anxiety or extreme worry.

Your body does not assimilate the situation and therefore tends to “defend itself” from the danger you feel, although this results in muscle numbness and fatigue , a weak or very tired state that will not let you think or rest easily.

How to cure a contracture in the neck?

Fortunately, there are several effective treatments to cure this type of cervical contraction or various muscle contractures. We present the most recommended:

1. Apply heat to the area

This can be done with compresses or clean towels , but hot and lukewarm water is effective, which does more than lessen the pain.

Note: This greatly alleviates the contraction and muscle tone restores , due to the advantage that the heat promotes blood flow (by dilating the blood vessels).

On the other hand, applying heat gives better neck flexibility as well as decreases the pressure that exists in the contracture, but more importantly, it allows the arrival of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues.

2. Perform a massage

This is best done by an expert massage therapist or a physiotherapist for muscle contractures.

Why? They will know what type of massage will be indicated for your case of neck contracture, sincethere are many massages for different areas of the body (such as a deeper massage).

Notable: There are some in which hot rocks are applied to the spine, which are helpful in relieving cervical tension and providing a lot of relief.

3. Perform stretching exercises

Every morning, regardless of whether you’ll be training or not, Always perform a specific stretching or warm-up exercise.

Stretching is essential for the proper functioning of the muscular system, this protects its tissues and favors its flexibility, to prevent unnecessary injury in many frequent cases.

Note: These exercises are not only applied to sports, they are also required for arduous and forced work.

4. Apply a local analgesic

This should be done with the help of a doctor, only if he fully recommends it in a case of very painful muscle contracture.

A local analgesic will numb the area that is affected , it is normally used for deep surgeries, but its main action is to block the impulses or passages of the nerves in the system, losing the sensitivity that exists in it.

To highlight: The effect of the analgesic lasts only a few minutes until the sensitivity of the nerves is restored again, but it will reduce the symptoms in their entirety.

5. Receive physiotherapy or alternative medicine sessions

These are a type of medicine that Can help a lot , since they are a great physical alternative to muscle contractures, called physiotherapy sessions led by specialists.

The sessions are carried out daily for weeks, in order to provide vitality and energy to the muscles, as well as greater flexibility, also giving a deep feeling of relief and tranquility. Yoga can also be practiced during these sessions.

6. Prescription drugs

You can opt for previously prescribed drugs, especially with an anti-inflammatory or analgesic nature. But some are also necessary for cases of muscular dystrophy.

Note:In addition to the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen, prescription use of corticosteroids, deflazacort, muscle relaxants, and prednisone may be recommended. They must be used with prescriptions as they carry side effects.

Key Findings

  • Neck contracture is a painful musclecontracturein the upper back.
  • The causes varyfrom poor posture, muscular dystrophy to stressful situations.
  • The main symptoms arestiffness pain, tingling and prolonged fatigue.
  • Neck contracture can be cured with exercises, massages or physiotherapy sessions to improve flexibility and movement.

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