It’s safe to say that a large majority of people will likely experience a stiff neck in their lifetime, which is why we’d like to take a moment to discuss stiff neck causes and treatment options.
A stiff neck is typically identified by soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when the person tries to turn their head to the side. Symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week and pain can range from mild to extremely painful and limiting. Most episodes of neck pain are acute and heal quickly with just a few cases being indicative of a more serious medical condition.
Serious Stiff Neck Symptoms
The symptoms below may indicate a potentially serious underlying medical condition is causing the stiff neck:
- Headache, if it differs from past headaches in terms of duration or intensity
- Nausea or vomiting
- Change in mental state, including confusion or mood swings
- Dizziness or coordination issues
- Weight loss
Please seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing a stiff neck with one or more of the symptoms listed above or if your neck pain is the result of a traumatic neck injury, like whiplash.
Stiff Neck Causes
The most common cause of neck pain or stiffness is from muscle sprain, muscle strain, muscle spasm, or inflammation in the cervical spine. Common causes of neck stiffness include:
- Sleeping in an awkward position that doesn’t support the natural curve of the spine
- Falling or a sudden impact that pushes the head to the side
- Repeatedly turning the head from side to side during an activity
- Practicing poor posture while working on a computer or looking down at a cell phone for an extended time
- Experiencing extreme stress or anxiety
Stiff Neck Treatment
In most cases, a stiff neck can be treated using home remedies such as over-the-counter pain medication, ice/heat therapy, and physical therapy or muscle conditioning. If the symptoms do not subside after one week, please seek medical attention.
We hope that covering stiff neck causes and treatment can help our patients make informed decisions when they are experiencing this kind of pain. If you or a loved one would like to make an appointment with one of our board-certified surgeons, please visit the Find a Doctor page on our website.