7 things you’re doing daily that can cause your neck to be stiff on one side

stiff neck on one side

Have you ever woken up feeling like your neck chose a side and didn’t want to move? This can be a widespread occurrence for many people. You may be curious about what could cause it, but it can be simple. The culprit can often be traced back to our daily habits. A stiff neck doesn’t have to keep you down. Physical therapy can help determine the underlying cause of your stiff neck and help you find relief.

Sneaky culprits behind one-sided stiff necks

Your daily habits can play a large role in contributing to your stiff neck. These habits can include:

  • “Tech neck” posture — In today’s digital world, we spend hours hunched over computer desks and smartphones. While this can keep us plugged into our jobs and social connections, it can also cause a strain on the neck muscles from what is referred to as “tech neck.” This strain on neck muscles and ligaments can lead to stiffness. This stiffness could be felt on one side depending on how you sit.

  • Carrying a heavy bag — That oversized bag slung over one shoulder that you carry? It can throw off your balance, leaving one side of your neck working overtime to help compensate.

  • Twisted sleeping positions — If you are a restless sleeper, you may sleep in a position that can strain one side of your neck.

  • Lack of movement — If you stay in one position for a long time or don’t do a lot of physical activity, it can cause muscle tension and weakness. This tension and weakness can cause you to have an increased vulnerability to stiffness.

  • Stress and tension — If you find yourself in the clutches of high-stress levels, it can increase muscle tension. This increased tension can cause you to experience tightness, particularly on one side of your neck.

  • Poor ergonomics — Poor ergonomics at your home or workplace can contribute to neck strain.

  • Unbalanced physical activities — If you tend to overcompensate with one side of your body during physical activities, it can lead to muscle imbalances that can cause stiffness on your dominant side.

Treatment options for one-sided neck stiffness

Addressing one-sided neck stiffness can need a multifaceted approach, combining lifestyle adjustments with targeted interventions. Effective treatment options can include:

  • Heat and cold therapy — At home, alternating between using a heating pad and cold packs on the affected side can help provide you with relief. Heat therapy can help promote muscle relaxation. Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and numb the affected area.

  • Over-the-counter medications — NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce the inflammation on the affected side.

  • Physical therapy Physical therapy can incorporate a number of evidence-based techniques that can help provide you with lasting relief from neck stiffness.

  • Sleeping habits — Sleeping with proper pillow support and good sleeping positions can help prevent neck strain. This stress reduction can help reduce stiffness in your neck in the mornings.
  • Posture correction — Adopting proper posture can help alleviate neck strain that can contribute to the discomfort you feel on one side of your neck.

  • Stress management techniques — Incorporating mindfulness, meditation or yoga can help you alleviate overall muscle tension that can help relieve the one-sided neck stiffness that is causing your pain. 

Physical therapy treatments for targeted neck relief

Physical therapy can be a beneficial treatment in helping to alleviate one-sided neck stiffness. Physical therapy treatments can include:

  • Manual therapy — Your physical therapist may use manual therapy techniques like joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization. Joint mobilization can help manipulate the cervical spine to help improve your joint mobility and reduce stiffness. Soft tissue mobilization can help relax tight muscles and improve flexibility.

  • Trigger point release — Trigger point therapy is another manual therapy technique that uses strategic pressure to trigger points within affected muscles to help relieve knots and alleviate localized pain.

  • Therapeutic exercises — Your physical therapist can recommend targeted stretching exercises to help improve your neck’s flexibility and muscle tightness. Strengthening exercises can help provide your neck with better support and stability.

  • Graston Technique® — The Graston Technique is an instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization technique certified physical therapists use. Your physical therapist will use specialized stainless steel instruments to help break down scar tissue, reduce muscle adhesions and promote tissue healing.

  • Electrical stimulation — Electrical stimulation can be done through transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to deliver low-level electrical currents to a specific area to help relieve pain and reduce muscle spasms.

Your physical therapist can determine the underlying cause of your one-sided stiff neck and design a customized treatment plan to address your individual needs and conditions. 

Trust Franklin Rehabilitation to be your guide on your journey to relief from one-sided neck stiffness

Franklin Rehabilitation can be instrumental in helping address your one-sided stiff neck. Our expert physical therapists will use a combination of techniques to help address the underlying issues contributing to your stiffness. These techniques can provide you with relief from symptoms as well as contribute to long-term functional improvements and a better quality of life. Take your first step toward effective rehabilitation and recovery with our compassionate team.

Call us or request an appointment today to find stiff neck relief.