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Reasons for a Stiff Neck & Sore Muscles With Back Pain

By Martin Hughes

Muscle pain and stiffness in the back and neck have numerous causes. Some muscle soreness and stiffness are the result of external factors, such as being involved in a motor vehicle accident, while others are the result of internal factors, such as activities or postures. Stiffness and pain, while often temporary, are the body's signals that a structural imbalance is present.

Motor Vehicle Accident

Pain and stiffness from trauma may be caused by the sudden jolt experienced during a car accident, and symptoms may range from muscle ache to stabbing pain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Victims of motor vehicle accidents may also experience reduced flexibility and range of motion, due either to joint damage or from the pain and stiffness associated with muscle, tendon and ligament damage. Occasionally, a crash victim may experience pain that radiates from one part of the body to another. One of the most common injuries that can cause a stiff neck and sore muscles with back pain is whiplash. These injuries can be sustained during any type of crash, especially in rear-end collisions, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The institute reports that between 1988 and 1996, there were more than 805,500 cases of whiplash in the United States.

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries, either self-induced or from physical contact with a competitor, can cause stiff necks and sore muscles with back pain. The most common sports injuries are overuse injuries, which are potentially debilitating disturbances in a person's muscles when those muscles are subjected to excessive or prolonged stress, states the Sports Injury Bulletin website. Neck and back muscles injured by overuse can lose up to 50 percent of their usual strength, which can affect not only athletic performance but activities of daily living. Following vigorous exercise after an extended break, a person may experience a condition called delayed-onset muscle soreness, which is a severe and temporarily debilitating condition involving muscle stiffness and soreness that resolves within 24 to 72 hours after exercise. Blunt-force trauma, which often occurs in sports such as football, rugby and hockey, is another possible reason for a stiff neck and sore muscles with back pain.

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Faulty Posture

Faulty posture can lead to neck stiffness and muscle soreness with back pain, and it can cause headaches. For every inch the head is held forward, in front of the gravity line, 10 pounds of apparent head weight is added, according to Rene Cailliet, a physician and author. The additional weight associated with a forward or anterior head position places a significant amount of stress on the tissues of the neck and upper back and, over time, can result in stiff and sore muscles. Faulty posture, especially a slumped seated posture, can cause back pain or discomfort. Failing to maintain good posture can place strain on lower back muscles and stress on the spine, according to the Spine Health website. Faulty posture can be improved by performing daily postural exercises. Consult with a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, to learn exercises that will improve your posture.

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