What is Range of Motion?
Range of motion is the degree of movement around a joint or a body part. Loss of range of motion means that a body part or a joint is unable to move through its normal range of motion.
What Causes Loss of Range of Motion in Neck?
If you are suffering from loss of range of motion in neck, then you should be careful and find out the cause for it. The decreased range of motion in neck can be from a simple problem, such as neck sprain, or it can be due to something serious, such as meningitis. So, it is important to pay attention to other symptoms along with loss of range of motion in the neck, as it could be a sign of something very serious.
There are many causes for loss of range of motion in neck. Some of the causes are mentioned below:
One of the common causes for loss of range of motion in neck is neck stiffness leading to limited range of motion of the neck. This occurs as a result of poor spinal alignment when sleeping on a thick pillow or soft mattress. After spending hours like this in an unnatural position, it causes spasming of the neck muscles with irritation of the nerves resulting in neck stiffness and loss of range of motion in neck. Neck stiffness or tension in the neck muscles can also result from keeping the head in one position constantly or keeping the head in an uncomfortable position, such as when watching TV, reading or when holding the phone between the neck and shoulder.
Having tension headache can also cause neck stiffness and loss of range of motion in neck. Tension headaches occur due to problems with nerve signals transmitted to the brain and overactive pain receptors. Mood disorders and psychological stress can also cause tension headaches and loss of range of motion in neck. Tension headache is also responsible for bad posture, which in turn contributes to loss of range of motion in the neck.
Our neck consists of muscles, ligaments and tendons and they can become injured, torn or stretched when there is a sudden, sharp movement. If this injury occurs in the tendons and muscles, then it is known as a neck strain. If the injury is in the ligaments, then it is known as neck sprain. Neck strain or sprain is also a leading cause of loss of range of motion in neck. Treatment can be done with cold therapy and use of over-the-counter pain medications for pain relief. Rest is important and gentle massage can also be beneficial.
Damage or injury to various neck structures including nerves, muscles, vertebrae and intervertebral discs cause neck pain. This pain can radiate to the jaw, shoulders and head. As a result of neck pain, patient can have loss of range of motion in the neck and any movement of the neck either produces pain or worsens existing neck pain. Other symptoms which the patient can experience along with loss of range of motion include: Neck pain, radiating pain to the shoulders, head and jaw, weakened muscles, tingling and numbness.
Motor vehicle accidents or a hard fall can cause extreme damage to the neck and its structures. Patient can have fractures of the vertebrae, injury to the spinal cord and rupture of blood vessels. This type of severe damage to the neck structures causes loss of range of motion in neck.
Cervical Disc Diseases
Cervical spine disorders, such as cervical degenerative disc disease, cervical herniated disc, bone spurs, intervertebral disc herniation, arthritis where this is inflammation of the small joints between the cervical vertebrae, can cause loss of range of motion of the neck.
Meningitis can also cause loss of range of motion in the neck along with severe neck pain, stiffness and headache. Meningitis is a serious disease where there is inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Other than loss of range of motion of the neck, other symptoms of meningitis include viral, bacterial or fungal infection. Meningitis requires prompt medical treatment.
Also known as spasmodic torticollis, cervical dystonia is a rare medical condition where the patient experiences involuntary and painful contractions of the neck muscles. There is loss of range of motion in neck along with forcible twisting of the head forwards, sideways or backwards. There is no permanent cure for this condition and surgery is done in severe cases. Botulinum toxin injections can also reduce the symptoms. In some cases, cervical dystonia can resolve on its own.
If you are suffering from loss of range of motion in the neck, then there are different doctors whom you can consult depending on the underlying cause, such as neurologist, rheumatologist orthopedist, traumatologist, massage therapist, physiotherapist or a chiropractor. Treatment for loss of range of motion in neck will depend on its underlying cause.