Medically the evaluation by Gregory Minnis, DPT, Physical treatment — written by Jennifer Berry ~ above January 2, 2019

The neck has muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. These occupational together to assistance the head and enable it to relocate in numerous directions. The neck may end up being stiff or painful once overused or injured.

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A stiff neck regularly occurs when one that the muscle becomes strained or tense. Stiffness can likewise develop if one or an ext of the vertebrae is injured.

A stubborn neck may end up being painful when a person tries to move their neck or head.

Usually, a stiff neck outcomes from a young injury or incident. People can frequently relieve the stiffness in ~ home. In rarely cases, however, it deserve to be a authorize of a serious disease that requires medical treatment.


Stiffness generally occurs once the neck muscles space overused, stretched too far, or strained. This can reason pain varying from soft to major that deserve to make it difficult to relocate the head or usage the neck muscles.

The many common causes of a stiff neck include:

Minor sprains and strains


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Share ~ above PinterestSleeping in one awkward place can cause a stiff neck.
A stiff neck regularly results from minor injury or strain, perhaps due to:

sleeping awkwardlysitting or slouching for lengthy periods, such together at a desklooking down at an object (such together a cell phone) repeatedlysustaining a sports injuryexperiencing a fall

Whiplash

More significant neck injuries can reason whiplash. People often endure whiplash during car crashes that reason the head to unexpectedly jerk forward and also backward.

Whiplash is one injury come the muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves in the neck, or all of these. It causes pain and also stiffness in the neck.

Other symptom of whiplash include:

dizzinessback or shoulder paina emotion of prickling or burn in the neck areamemory ns or trouble concentrating

Arthritis

Cervical spondylosis, or arthritis that the neck, can also cause neck pain and also stiffness, which may boost when lied down.

The pain may gain worse when a human stays in the same position for a long period, such as while steering or sit in front of a computer. Other symptoms that cervical spondylosis include:

headachesnumbness in the arms or handstrouble walking, balance problems, or bothweakness in the eight or legs

A doctor may diagnose cervical spondylosis with the assist of specific tests, such as an X-ray, MRI scan, and a blood test.

Meningitis

Sometimes, a stiff neck is a symptom of meningitis, which deserve to be serious. Meningitis is one inflammation of the meninges, which room coverings top top the brain and spinal cord.

A virus, bacteria, or fungi may cause meningitis. Famous meningitis have the right to get better on the own, but bacterial and also fungal meningitis can be life-threatening. Some symptoms that meningitis include:

nauseavomitingsensitivity to lightconfusion, irritability, or bothan inability to wake from sleep

A human should seek immediate medical treatment if these symptoms appear.


Using an ice fill can assist relieve inflammation and also swelling after a young strain. The ice have the right to have a numbing effect, in the interim relieving any kind of pain.

This therapy is normally most reliable within the an initial 48 hours of an injury, when there often tends to be the most far-ranging swelling.

Use a first aid ice pack or cover a bag of ice cream or frozen peas through a fabric to prevent frostbite. Use the ice cream for approximately 20 minute at a time, taking 20–30-minute breaks.

Applying heat

Some people alternating using ice and heat on a muscle strain. Making use of heating pads or a taking warm bath can aid relax tense muscles and carry out relief.

Taking over-the-counter medicines

If applying ice, heat, or both does no relieve the ache of a stiff neck, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help.

Some examples encompass ibuprofen and naproxen, which can reduce swelling and also relieve pain. If a person has actually a health condition and is taking other medications, they need to ask a doctor prior to using NSAIDs.

Stretching

Stretch the neck muscle by gently and also slowly relocating the head from side to side. Roll the shoulders forward and also backward. Stop if the stretches reason pain.

Checking the sleep environment

Sometimes, a mattress that is too firm or not supportive sufficient can cause neck pain. A pillow that is the incorrect dimension or firmness may likewise cause a stubborn neck.

The head, neck, and back should be in an set position during sleep. The pillows the a human uses have to suit their resting position.

A firmer, larger pillow might work well because that side sleepers. Earlier sleepers might need a flatter pillow the supports the head and also neck there is no forcing them right into a front position.

Paying attention to posture

Slouching can gradually pull the neck muscles and also cause stiffness and also pain. A human being should emphasis on maintaining the shoulders, neck, and earlier in a right line transparent the day. Attract a posture-correcting device may help, as can setting reminders and also alarms ~ above a mobile or computer.

See a dentist

Ongoing stiffness in the neck attach by a headache or jaw ache upon waking have the right to be a sign of nighttime this grinding, or bruxism. A dentist can check the teeth for indications of wear indigenous grinding, and also they may look in ~ the alignment that the jaw.

Some world wear a custom-made this guard at night to protect the this from further damage. This may additionally alleviate press on the jaw and also neck muscles.

Getting a massage

A license is granted massage therapist may help provide relief from tense, ill muscles. Return research has actually not yet proven that massage is effective, a research from 2014 uncovered that massage did enhance pain for human being with neck arthritis.

Other research released in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice uncovered that having a professional massage can aid relieve stress, which might indirectly aid with stiffness in the neck.

Managing stress

There is no means to completely avoid stress. However, finding out to control it can reduce stress and anxiety in the neck.

People with high levels of chronic stress might wish come talk with a health care professional around healthful means to regulate stress.

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Some the the complying with measures can help prevent a stiff neck:

Use an earpiece to speak on the phone. Protect against holding the phone between the shoulder and also ear.Try not to look down at a mobile or tablet computer for lengthy periods. Hold the an equipment at eye level whenever feasible and take constant breaks.Use ideal ergonomics in ~ work. This may include keeping the screen at eye level, maintaining the feet flat on the floor, and also making certain the arms are supported. Also, emphasis on maintaining the head directly above the neck without craning the forward.Be mindful as soon as carrying bags. Transferring a heavy purse or briefcase have the right to put push on the shoulder and strain the muscle in the neck. Usage rolling bags or backpacks whenever possible.Take breaks. Sitting or driving for long periods can strain the neck. Get up, walk, and stretch at least once per hour.Invest in a high-quality mattress and pillow that provide the exactly amount of support.Regularly connect in stress-relieving activities. Part examples incorporate listening come relaxing music, acquisition baths, practicing meditation or deep breathing, and also enjoying a course or favorite activity.See a health care provider together recommended. Talk v them about pain, stress levels, sleep quality, and overall well-being.