Stiff Neck

Stiff Neck

A stiff neck is a common complaint which will probably affect everyone at some point in their life. It is however, usually short-lived, lasting for just a few days at a time. More often than not a stiff neck is caused by muscular tightness.

Symptoms of a Stiff Neck

  • A tight, stiff feeling in the neck and surrounding muscles.
  • Difficulty moving the neck, especially turning the head.
  • Some people may experience headaches.
  • Pain may radiate down into the back or down the arms.

Causes

More often than not a stiff neck is caused by tight neck muscles. A muscle in the neck may have been strained (pulled/torn) or have gone into spasm. Levator scapulae is a common culprit.

Causes of a stiff neck include poor posture, repetitive neck movements, unusual neck positions (especially when sleeping), stress, sports activities or lifting weights etc.

A stiff neck can occasionally be a symptom of another condition, such as meningitis, although this would feature other symptoms such as a temperature, nausea or vomiting. Neck injuries and problems with the vertebrae or discs may cause a stiff neck due to muscle spasms which help support and protect the injury.

Treatment of a Stiff Neck

  • Rest from any activity that may have caused it.
  • Gently stretch the neck muscles (example neck stretches).
  • Apply a heat pack (if there was a sudden point of pain, don't do this for at least 48 hours).
  • Sports massage is usually very effective in relaxing the muscles.