chiropractor or massage

Stiff Neck – Chiropractor or Massage?

We’ve all had to suffer through a stiff neck. Whether you’ve fallen asleep at a rough angle or sat with awkward posture at the work desk, neck pain is at best uncomfortable and at worst debilitating. Many of our patients see us regularly to treat neck pain and related problems. Another popular neck treatment option is massage. This raises the question: Who is it best to see if you have a stiff neck – a chiropractor or a massage therapist? In this post we’ll answer that question and more. We’ll dig into the causes of a stiff neck as well as the differences in the way chiropractic and massage therapy aims to diagnose and treat neck pain.


What can cause a stiff neck?

Because it eventually carries all of the nervous signals to and from our brain, the spine plays a vital role in almost everything our bodies do. Being so close to the head and brain this is especially true when it comes to the vertebrae and nerves of the back and neck. As a result, even small changes or traumas to the structure of the neck can lead to pain and secondary problems.

Muscle tension causing neck pain

Most mild to moderate cervical spine neck pain is felt in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Sometimes the pain and loss of motion from a stiff neck is simply caused by tension or injury to the muscle itself. This is often the case for acute, or short term neck pain, caused by poor sleeping position, poor posture or a strain injury such as a sporting strain. Muscle issues may resolve themselves and can be quickly treated by massage therapists or chiropractors. 

A misaligned neck spine position

Vertebrae are designed to work best in a very precise position next to their neighbours. Because they are involved in the movement of the neck, carry blood vessels and nerves to the face and are supported by so many muscles, misaligned vertebrae can cause serious pain and follow on issues. This is a chiropractor’s specialty.

A misaligned neck spine can stop the neck from moving correctly, put pressure on blood vessels and nerves and change the way they function, cause tension and pain in muscles as they try to compensate and lead to secondary conditions like headaches or a cervicogenic headache or pain into the arm and sinus issue which we’re about to look at. This might lead to a neck injury if left untreated or become chronic neck pain.

Headaches and neck symptoms

Headaches can lead to neck pain and neck pain can even spread to become certain forms of headaches. In particular, pain from severe headaches like migraines and cluster headaches often radiates to other parts of the body including the neck and shoulders.

Sinus infection causing neck stiffness

Your sinuses might seem like they’re a long way from your neck, but sinus infection is often related to neck pain. Tension in muscles from infections in specific sinuses and inflammation from immune response are a couple of the ways that a sinus problem can lead to a stiff neck and neck pain.

stiff neck female model

How does massage therapy help neck stiffness?

Massage therapy focuses on maintaining correct structure of your muscles. A well trained massage therapist will identify areas of excessive tension and injuries in your muscle and attempt to return the neck muscle fibres of the affected area to a more relaxed, comfortable state. Good remedial massage therapy uses manual manipulation techniques. This is more than a neck rub.

Massage therapists are comprehensively trained in anatomy and physiology so that the pressure and movements they apply to the neck muscle promote a return to normal structure in the best possible way.

The Pros of Neck Stiffness Treatment

Massage therapy focuses on and treats the symptoms of your neck pain from muscle strain directly. Despite the fact a stiff neck usually stems from a problem with the spine, the pain you feel is usually a specific muscle strain.

Treating these neck muscle pain is what massage therapy excels at. After a short recovery period, massage therapy may provide immediate relief from your neck pain and help you regain some of your lost range of motion. Remedial massage is a little rougher than recreational massage, many clients still find the experience relaxing and enjoyable.

The Cons of Neck Stiffness Treatment

Unfortunately, treating the sore muscles in a stiff neck will likely only alleviate symptoms of neck pain for a short time. Neck pain is often caused by a more complex underlying problem and unless that issue is identified and treated your sore neck is likely to return.

Qualified massage therapists are extremely good at what they do, but their training most often doesn’t include an in-depth medical diagnosis like professional health providers with a university degree. If you have an underlying injury then you may want a further diagnosis to avoid further injury. A massage therapist may not be skilled in identifying the underlying causes of your neck pain especially if there are issues related to your skeletal or nervous systems.

How can treatment by a chiropractic help?

Treatment for a stiff neck or neck pain is one of the most common reasons patients seek out the help of a doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractic therapy reaches deeper than the muscles of your neck. A chiropractor is trained in the anatomy and physiology of a variety of body systems and utilises advanced diagnostic techniques to identify the issues contributing to neck pain. This is especially important when you experience neck pain that stems from an issue in another part of the body or from an injury.

The Pros of Neck Stiffness Treatment

Chiropractic doctors attempts to always maintain a focus on the relationship between all three of the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems. When it comes to a stiff neck, this means that your chiropractor not only understands the symptoms of a stiff neck, but the diagnosis and treatment of many of the underlying causes as well.

Chiropractic therapy is therefore well suited to provide a more long-term solution to your stiff neck. In particular, chiropractors understand the finer details of the structure of your spine and the issues that can arise due to misalignment of the vertebrae.

Cervical spinal pain issues are one of the most common causes of a stiff neck. A chiropractor is also trained to identify the relationship between neck pain and secondary problems including headaches, dizziness and sinus issues.

The Cons of Neck Stiffness Treatment

Many patients worry that chiropractic treatment will be scary or painful. The truth is though, that chiropractic therapy is nationally accredited and safe and patient comfort is one of the highest priorities of chiropractic treatment. For example, the chiropractors at MyChiro are trained in a wide-enough variety of techniques to ensure that treatment can be tailored to the needs and concerns of every patient. Focussing on and treating the underlying causes of your stiff neck may not provide immediate relief.

The number of visits to your doctor of chiropractic needed to resolve your neck pain issue will depend on the complexity of your specific case. This may also affect the time before you begin to feel relief. But the most important point is that a chiropractor isn’t interested in quick fixes, and is trying to provide you more permanent neck relief in the long term.

Getting help with your strained neck or neck pain

If you suffer from a stiff neck we hope you now have a better idea of what is causing your discomfort and the treatment options that may be available to you. If your neck pain is chronic or you suspect there may be complex underlying causes, the chiropractors at MyChiro are your best healthcare provider bet for long term relief from a strained neck or neck symptoms. If you’d like us to assess your neck pain or have any more questions about stiff necks or chiropractic therapy, get in touch with us today.

Incorporating Chiropractic and Massage Therapies for Neck Pain
When it comes to neck pain and stiffness, a combination of massage and chiro, or chiropractic treatment, can sometimes offer the most effective relief. Let’s delve into how these two therapies can complement each other.

Chiropractic treatment for neck pain usually involves techniques like chiropractic adjustments, spinal manipulation, and cervical manipulation. These methods aim to correct misaligned vertebrae, reduce nerve irritability, and improve the range of motion. Chiropractors use their hands or a small instrument to apply controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint, ultimately providing relief to the neck muscles and other areas that have been affected.

The skills of a chiropractor go beyond the usual conception of a chiropractor massager. In fact, their expertise allows them to address issues not only within the neck muscles but also the entire spinal column. Furthermore, chiropractors can help in alleviating arm pain, which might arise due to neck issues.

If you’re wondering how to massage neck pain effectively, this is where a massage therapist comes into play. A qualified massage therapist focuses on the soft tissues, like the muscles and tendons, promoting relaxation and improving blood flow. When used alongside chiropractic adjustments, massage can help reduce muscle tension, thus making the adjustment procedures more effective.

Spinal manipulation and cervical manipulation techniques used by chiropractors specifically target the joints and nerves in the spine, correcting misalignments that could be causing neck pain. While these methods are highly effective, they could lead to some muscle tension as the body adjusts to the realignment. Massage therapy can be beneficial here, helping to relax the muscles and speed up the healing process.

Neck muscles play a crucial role in maintaining the alignment of the cervical spine. Any imbalance or tension in these muscles can lead to neck stiffness, headaches, and even arm pain. Combining massage therapy with chiropractic neck adjustments can provide comprehensive care, addressing both the root cause of the problem and the associated muscle tension.

Ultimately, the choice between massage and chiro, or their combination, depends on the nature and severity of your neck pain. While massage therapy is excellent for muscle-related issues, chiropractic care can address both muscular and skeletal problems, providing a more holistic solution. It’s always essential to consult with your healthcare provider before deciding on a course of treatment. The more informed you are, the better you can manage your health and well-being.


Experiencing a stiff neck can be significantly discomforting, and in some cases, it can be severely debilitating. Various factors can cause this common ailment, including muscle strain, a misaligned neck spine position, or a sinus infection. This text explores the best ways to deal with a stiff neck, focusing on two popular therapeutic methods: chiropractic care and massage therapy.

In the context of neck pain, it’s essential to understand what causes it. The neck is a complex part of the body, consisting of vertebrae, nerves, and muscles. Even minor alterations or injuries to these structures can trigger pain and lead to stiffness in the neck. For instance, muscle tension or strain often results in short-term neck pain. This could be due to poor posture, a bad sleeping position, or an injury from physical activities. In such cases, massage therapy or chiropractic treatments can effectively alleviate the pain.

However, when the vertebrae in the neck are misaligned, the resulting pain and stiffness can be more severe. Misalignment impedes neck mobility, pressurizes blood vessels and nerves, and causes muscle tension. In turn, these issues may lead to secondary problems like headaches and pain radiating to the arms and shoulders. If left untreated, a misaligned neck spine can potentially cause chronic neck pain or result in a more serious neck injury.

Massage therapy can offer temporary relief for a stiff neck by focusing on the muscles. Therapists identify areas with excessive tension or muscle strain and aim to restore them to a relaxed state. However, the relief is usually short-term as massage therapy primarily treats the symptoms of the stiff neck rather than addressing its causes.

On the other hand, chiropractic care offers a more comprehensive approach. A chiropractor can diagnose and treat the underlying causes of the stiff neck, offering a more long-lasting solution for neck stiffness. Chiropractic doctors understand the complex relationship between the muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems of the body. They can identify and address issues related to vertebrae misalignment and other related symptoms, providing relief from stiffness in the neck.

Many people worry about the comfort of chiropractic treatments. However, patient comfort is a priority in chiropractic care. Chiropractic health providers tailor their techniques to individual patient needs, ensuring the treatment is as comfortable as possible. While it may take a few visits before noticeable relief occurs, chiropractic treatment aims for a long-term solution rather than a quick fix.

For individuals dealing with chronic or complex neck pain, a healthcare provider such as a chiropractor may offer the most effective long-term relief. While massage therapy can provide immediate relief for muscle-related neck pain, chiropractic care seeks to diagnose and treat the root cause of the stiffness in the neck, making it a more comprehensive approach.

In conclusion, the choice between chiropractic care and massage therapy depends on the causes and severity of the neck pain. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any treatment decisions. It’s also beneficial to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent neck issues. Regular exercise, a good sleeping position, and proper posture can help keep neck problems at bay.

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Remember when you feel pain in the back of your neck or neck stiffness to consult a doctor of chiropractic.

To get rid of a stiff neck, a doctor of chiropractic employs specialized techniques to realign the spine, relieving pressure on nerves and muscles. They diagnose the underlying causes of the stiffness, offer treatments addressing these causes, and provide comprehensive care aimed at long-term relief and prevention of further issues.

A stiff neck can be a symptom of various conditions. It often results from muscle strain due to poor posture, stress, or sleeping in an awkward position. It could also be a sign of more serious conditions, like a misaligned spine, meningitis, or arthritis. Consult a healthcare provider or doctor for diagnosis.

The duration of a stiff neck can vary depending on the cause. Minor strains or sprains, often due to poor posture or sleeping position, may last a few days to a week. If stiffness persists beyond a week, or is accompanied by severe pain or other symptoms, seek health advice of a doctor of chiropractic.