Neck Pain and Stiffness

neck stiffness and pain

On image: neck stiffness and pain

A stiff neck can be bothersome, however it is normally not cause for panic. In uncommon cases, however, it might signify the need for a prompt medical evaluation. If a stiff neck is the result of a condition aside from a strain or sprain, frequently other symptoms will likewise be present. In such cases, typically at least one other symptom will develop with or before the stiff, painful neck happens.

Neck Stiffness

Meningitis – which in its most dangerous type is a bacterial infection that causes the protective membranes of the brain and spine to be inflamed – is the most typical serious condition related to a stiff neck. Inning accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a fever, headache, and stiff neck (inability to flex the neck forward, also called nuchal rigidness) are usually early symptoms of bacterial meningitis. When any two of these symptoms are present together, they must be right away checked out by a doctor. Meningitis symptoms typically develop within a few days of exposure, and the individual’s condition could intensify slowly or quickly. Early treatment for meningitis is crucial for having a good outcome. Delayed treatment could lead to poor results, such as hearing loss, brain damage, and even death.

Infection. While meningitis is the most typical infection that might cause a stiff neck, various other infections might likewise lead to a painful stiff neck.

Tumor. A brain tumor, especially if it is located in the cerebellum, can cause a stiff neck. A tumor in the cervical spine, such as from cancer, could likewise cause the neck to become sore and/or stiff.

Cervical dystonia. This neurological disorder, also known as a form of torticollis, can cause neck muscles to spasm frantically. The head might be turned or stuck in various positions beyond normal positioning.

It should be kept in mind that a stiff neck is not always present with meningitis, and other symptoms could consist of nausea, increased sensitivity to light or loud noises, or confusion, among others.

Neck Pain

The majority of the time, neck pain isn’t a severe condition and can be eased within a couple of days. Sometimes, neck pain can indicate major injury or illness and require a doctor’s care. If you have neck pain that continues for more than a week, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, look for medical attention right away.

1. Muscle stress and strain

This is normally due to activities and habits such as:

  • bad posture
  • operating at a desk for too long without changing position
  • sleeping with your neck in a bad position
  • jerking the neck during exercise

2. Injury

The neck is particularly vulnerable to injury, particularly in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move beyond their normal variety. If the neck bones, or cervical vertebrae, are fractured, the spinal cord may likewise be damaged. Neck injury due to sudden jerking of the head is commonly called whiplash.

3. Heart attack

Neck pain can likewise be a symptom of a heart attack, but it typically provides with other symptoms of a cardiovascular disease, such as:

If your neck injures and you have other symptoms of cardiac arrest, call an ambulance or go to the emergency clinic instantly.

4. Meningitis

As described above: meningitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spine. In people who have meningitis, a fever and a headache often occur with a stiff neck. Meningitis can be deadly and is a medical emergency situation. If you have the symptoms of meningitis, look for help immediately.

5. Other causes

Other causes consist of the following:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these happen in the neck area, neck pain can result.
  • Osteoporosis compromises bones and can lead to little fractures. This condition typically happens in hands or knees, however it can also occur in the neck.
  • Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.
  • As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This is known as spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck. This can narrow the area in between the vertebrae and includes stress to your joints.
  • When a disk extends, as from a trauma or injury, it might add pressure to the spinal cord or nerve roots. This is called a herniated cervical disk, likewise known as a ruptured or slipped disk.
  • Spinal stenosis takes place when the spinal column narrows and causes pressure on the spine or the nerve roots as it exits the vertebrae. This can be due to long-lasting inflammation triggered by arthritis or other conditions.

Follow Up

1. Stretching can keep pain at bay

Putting your display at eye level, staying up straight and preventing tilting and twisting your head down or to the side while you’re on the computer can assist you prevent neck pain. When you’re driving or taking a look at your cell phone, make certain to take frequent breaks and avoid having your neck bent forward for long periods of time.

The secret to relief for a stiff neck is proper extending and manipulation. Here are some stretches you can try at your desk or in the car that might help you to avoid a stiff neck:

  • Roll your shoulders in reverse and down 10 times
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times
  • Push your head in reverse into your car head rest or hands and hold for 30 seconds
  • Bring your ear to your shoulder 10 times on each side

2. Make sure when you sleep

If your neck is bothering you, you also should take notice of your sleep positions. Sleep only on your side or on your back — never on your stomach.

When you sleep on your stomach, typically you will end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time. Sleeping on your stomach likewise can impact your low back because your belly sinks in to the bed if you do not have enough support.

For small, common causes of neck pain, attempt these basic treatments:

  • Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be used with warm showers, hot compresses or a heating pad. Make certain not to drop off to sleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place to avoid skin injuries.
  • Take over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Keep moving, however avoid jerking or painful activities. This helps calm your symptoms and decrease inflammation.
  • Do sluggish range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear. This helps to carefully stretch the neck muscles.
  • Have a partner carefully massage the sore or painful areas.
  • Attempt sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with an unique neck pillow.
  • Ask your healthcare service provider about using a soft neck collar to alleviate pain. Do not use the collar for a very long time. Doing so can make your neck muscles weaker.

Last modified: February 13, 2018

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