Why do I constantly get muscle tension in my neck and how can I end the pain and soreness?

Do you often wake up with a stiff neck? Feel like you always have soreness across the shoulders? Notice you can’t turn your head like you should be able to? Sometimes feel the tension going right up into your head, causing a headache? Or even find it often difficult to work on the computer or drive for a long period without having your neck tension increase?

Many people suffer from tightness, spasm or sore muscles in the neck. Often times if you feel the neck you can find hard nodules which are knots in the muscles or what I call trigger points. It is very common.

Usually the source of the problem actually stems from the neck spine and nerves in the neck. Why is this so? Well, to start, the nerves control our muscle function. If there is pressure on nerves in the neck your muscles aren’t getting proper communication, so they get imbalanced and don’t work like they should. Next, a spine that is misaligned will not only contribute to possible direct pressure on a nerve by a spinal bone or bones misaligned but also it can create an uneven ness in the spine so that the muscles are not balanced. For example, if your spine is not straight u and down from the front to back and has a curvature to the side then the side the curve is toward has a constantly stretched and tense muscle. The opposite side will have a shortened muscle. Simply because of mechanics you may be able to tilt more to one side whereas the other side is limited.

Let’s take another example of the forward head. From the side view our spine should have smooth flowing curves. The neck should have a C-curve of 40-60 degrees. This keeps the spinal cord relaxed and the nerves that come off it free of interference. It also allows your spine to with stand the forces of gravity at it’s best. It has been shown that for each inch of forward head dift or carriage can cause 10+ more pounds of gravitational forces pressing down on you. Not to mention those muscles in the back of the neck that now have to work harder to hold the head up and in alignment.

So you can see from just two examples how misalignments can cause tension on the muscles and/or put pressure on the nerves causing pain and blocked communication of the brain and spinal cord to those muscles.

How can I get rid of this neck pain and tension?

Fix the cause – the unwanted misalignments and nerve pressure.

  1. Get your spine treated by a Chiropractor or Osteopath. A Massage Therapist or Physical Therapist can help as well. The Chiropractor or Osteopath can adjust or manipulate the spine into it’s best position. They may also use muscle stretches or trigger point release techniques as does a Massage Therapist or cervical traction, electric muscle stimulation or postural exercises that a Physical Therapist may do as well.
  2. Be aware of your posture – remember posture is a window into your spine. If your posture reveals a forward head carriage for example then your spine has lost some of the normal curvature and is out in front of your center of gravity. Make sure your work station is ergonomically correct and also be aware of things that increase neck tension and stress.
  3. Sleep with a good pillow. I recommend one with support for the normal cervical curvature (normal neck alignment). Forward head posture is the most common misalignment I see. A good cervical pillow or cervical traction can help correct this problem without much effort at all.
  4. So, correct the root cause – pressure on the nerves and misalignments and you will correct the muscle soreness, tension, trigger points, and muscle pain.
Author's Bio: 

Dr. Gill is a Chiropractor in Glastonbury CT- He writes articles about pain relief and promotes natural pain relief for the cervical and lumbar spine.