2 August 2021
We are not ‘Fans’ of stiff necks at BodyFix Clinic.
I have been an Osteopath for 11 years now and with that experience I see ‘patterns’ of injuries. In the winter, Osteoarthritic pains are worse. In the summer I see people injuring their ankles from wearing flip-flops. One seasonal injury that I see coming through the door at BodyFix clinic in the summer is stiff necks. Or to give its full title ‘torticollis‘.
This is when your neck is so stiff that you cannot look up, down or to the side. It is often scary for the patient as they don’t know what they have done and how long it will last. It is also very limiting as they cannot drive safely or look down at their laptop or even get a good nights sleep.
So what causes this I hear you ask?! Well what I have noticed is that these injuries come when the weather has been very hot. The patient mentions that they have woken up with the pain and stiffness. So it must be something that is happening at night when it is hot. Thats right… you’ve guessed it… Fans and open windows.
Research has shown that sleeping with a fan blowing on you or in a draft can cause neck stiffness. It is thought that this is because as our body temperature drops throughout the night your muscles tighten up. This causes a constriction of blood flow. And it is made worse by the cooling of sweat on the skin in the early hours.
Firstly, I would suggest not having the fan blowing directly on to you whilst in bed. Have the air circulating in the room but set the fan timer to turn off after an hour. Also make sure you close your window before you fall asleep.
Secondly, I recommend not sleeping with your top half bare. Wear light PJ’s and have a sheet that you can pull over yourself as you get cooler.
Thirdly, if you are going on long car journeys don’t have the windows open. Your muscles can tighten up from the long drive and the draft blowing on you is a recipe from a stiff neck episode.
Research suggest that torticollis can last for 10 days or more. Because you aren’t able to move your neck fully, other muscles will often compensate. It can also lead to headaches and lost sleep.
The good news is that with Osteopathy treatment most patients feel better after just 2 to 3 treatments.
So as always, prevention is better than a cure. But if you do get a stiff neck BodyFix can help speed up your recovery.