Stiffness in neck is quite common for many people in life and it will get better in few days. This is not an indication of serious problem or underlying medical issues. Stiff neck pain can be caused due to sprain resulting from bending your neck in abnormal position. Sleeping in wrong posture and resting the neck in uneven surface for long time can cause stiffness. Stiffness can be caused without any obvious reasons also.
Stiff neck is caused when there is difficulty in moving the neck. The person will typically turn his body instead of turning his head. It can be accompanied with or without symptoms.
Some people may have signs of neck pain along with shoulder pain, headache (dull) and arm pain due to the frequent movement of the body to look on his sideways and back. But these symptoms are only temporary and will fade off once the stiffness in the neck is gone.
There can be sharp pain on the neck limiting its movement for some people. The stiffness will heal down quickly on its own without taking any treatment.
Sprain is the most common cause of stiff neck which is caused due to muscle sprain. There can be soreness on the levator scapula muscle found on the back of the neck. This muscle’s function is managed by the C3 and C4 cervical nerves of the lumbar region.
Muscular sprain or strain can be caused when a person sleeps in wrong position thereby straining his scapula muscle.
Mild or moderate sports injury or fall can strain the neck muscle. Muscular sprain can also be caused due to continuous activity of turning the neck bone and muscle like that of swimming. Excess of stress applied on the neck may cause this condition.
Nowadays many people use the neck bone to hold the mobile phones while driving the vehicles which can sprain the muscles on the neck.
Meningitis is characterized by stiff neck, fever, and headache with vomiting. Meningitis is a brain infection caused by bacteria which causes inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain.
Neck pain can be caused by cervical spondilytis, which causes inflammation of joints on the neck. It is a type of arthritis and occurs in old people. It is a chronic disorder and treatment has to be taken to reduce the inflammation and pain.
Stiff neck can also be caused due to squashed nerve and bone problem due to cervical radiculopathy. Neck pain becomes uncontrollable if it is due to the damage caused to nerves or bones. You need to consult your doctor for further diagnoses and treatment.
Stiff neck if accompanied by fever can be a serious condition which needs immediate medical care.
In rare cases, disorders on the cervical spine can cause stiff neck. For instance disorders like cervical osteoarthritis and cervical herniated disc can cause stiffness in the neck due to muscle spasm.
Home Remedies :
You can carry on with the normal activities if you have mild stiff neck without any other symptoms. You can take painkillers like ibuprofen orally or apply it in the form of gel gently on the neck.
Hot compress or cold pack on the neck can reduce the stiffness caused by muscular spasm.
While having stiff neck, do not use pillow while sleeping. Sleep on the flat bed that does not cause bending of neck.
Learn to sleep in the correct posture. Do not use more pillows since it may aggravate your pain.
In case of severe pain you should not drive since you may not be able to turn your head properly.Practice simple exercises lie tilting your neck and head down and moving your head on sideways. These simple exercises will help in reducing the stress caused by muscle spasm.
Medical Treatment :
Make sure to visit your doctor if you have stiff neck for more than 2 days along with fever and headache. Your doctor will make the diagnoses after conducting some tests to rule out meningitis and other cervical disorders.
He may prescribe strong painkillers to reduce the stiffness and muscle spasm.
Torticollis is a condition in which neck muscles are locked when you sleep in wrong position. The neck muscles are twisted towards one side and remain in that position. This will cause sharp neck pain with low grade fever.