Should You See a Chiropractor for a Stiff Neck?


There’s nothing fun about a stiff neck. This is most commonly an issue with sprained or strained neck muscles, but poor posture or even stress can also cause it.

Instead of simply living with the pain and waiting for the pain of a stiff neck to go away, seeing a chiropractor is an excellent option. Many studies show that chiropractors can effectively reduce neck pain and restore mobility through numerous safe, non-invasive techniques. 

Can a Chiropractor Help With a Stiff Neck?

Chiropractors take years of schooling and training in order to help people with their neck pain. For those with stiff necks, chiropractic care is ideal if they want safe treatment, fast relief, and even tips to prevent further stiffness and pain in the future. They can offer patients ways to relieve neck pain naturally at home as well.

There are several studies that show how effective chiropractic care is for neck pain. Here are a couple of those studies to give you an idea of chiropractic treatment for neck pain and stiffness.

Chiropractic Care and Chronic Neck Pain

One prospective, randomized, clinical control trial sought to evaluate chiropractic’s efficacy in treating 41 patients with chronic neck pain. The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a chiropractic group and a control group. The chiropractic group was treated with spinal manipulation, myofascial trigger points, and spinal rehab therapy, among others.

At the end of the five-week study, the authors found that chiropractic care proved effective at reducing pain and improving range of motion among patients. 

Safety of Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

A cohort study published in 2007 sought to evaluate the benefits and risks of chiropractic care for neck pain. The study involved 79 chiropractors, 529 patients, and over 4800 treatment consultations.

During the duration of the study, no adverse events were reported. Minor soreness and tenderness were fairly common, but usually went away quickly. The authors of the study determined that, given the safety of the care, the benefits of chiropractic care for neck pain outweigh the risks.

Stiff Neck Treatment Chiropractic

The two studies above represent many of the chiropractic studies to date. New studies illuminating the benefits of chiropractic care continue to come out. But there are many treatment techniques that chiropractors offer for stiff necks, which we’ll look at now to give you an idea of what to expect.

1) Neck Adjustments

There are many benefits of getting a chiropractic neck adjustment. Chiropractors use neck adjustments, also called manipulations, to help place the spine back in proper alignment. This can relieve pressure on the discs, and therefore the nerves, of the neck.

2) Physical Therapy Modalities

When the neck is so stiff that it’s tender and hard to move without pain, chiropractors often use physical therapy modalities such as ultrasound, heat, ice, or cold laser therapy to reduce pain and swelling, which can allow them to work on treating the cause of the pain.

3) Stretches/Exercises

Chiropractors often prescribe neck stretches and exercises to help relieve neck pain and prevent it from recurring. They will often show you how to do the stretches in-office and then tell you to do them at home during the treatment duration and perhaps even longer, depending on the cause of your pain.

4) Massage

Massage therapy is an excellent way to relieve stiff muscles and promote healing in the neck. Sometimes, all a stiff neck needs is a good massage or two to loosen up and feel better.

Stiff Neck Chiropractor or Massage?

People often wonder if they should see a chiropractor or a massage therapist for a stiff neck. The truth is that by choosing one of the other, you’re limiting your ability to get relief from a stiff neck. In fact, studies show that a multimodal approach to neck pain is the best treatment.

A study aiming to outline the best evidence-based chiropractic treatment for neck pain supports the multimodal approach. A total of 41 studies were evaluated to determine the best treatment options, and the authors found that a multimodal approach often fared best. For this reason, seeking a chiropractor that offers massage therapy and physical therapy can give you the best treatment possible for your stiff neck or neck pain.

When the different neck adjustment techniques are combined with massage, stretches, and physical therapy modalities, you can experience fast and effective pain relief.

Stiff Neck After Chiropractic Adjustment

It’s important to keep in mind that some people suffer a slight stiffness in the neck after a chiropractic adjustment. While this isn’t generally the same kind of stiffness that people experience when they have a neck strain or sprain, it can be uncomfortable. Luckily, those who do experience stiffness after an adjustment typically find that it fades within a day or two. This is normal and nothing to worry about.

Should I See a Chiropractor for a Stiff Neck: Conclusion

Whether you woke up with a stiff neck, experienced a sudden pain when you turned your head in the car, or you think that some other factor is to blame, you don’t have to live with a stiff neck. Seeing a chiropractor for a stiff neck can provide quick relief through proven and safe treatments. In addition to treating the neck pain, chiropractors can help you deal with “text neck,” provide a framework for keeping your neck healthy, and help ensure that you maintain proper posture to prevent further problems.

At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we offer massage, neck adjustments, and physical therapy to provide the best care for our patients. We know how hard it is to do all those things you love with a stiff neck, and we’ve been able to help thousands of Alaskans like you with neck issues in our 20+ years of service to our great state. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

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