Stiff neck rest results in soreness and difficulty in moving the neck. The pain generally occurs when trying to move the head to the side. It may also be accompanied with a neck pain, headache, arm pain, or shoulder pain. An individual may need to turn the entire body in order to look sideways in case of a stiff neck.
How a patient manages a stiff neck will determine the recovery period, pain level, and likely treatment of the condition.
Stiffness in the neck can occur due to many reasons. The most common reason for a stiff neck is a soft tissue sprain or a muscle strain. The levator scapulae muscle that connects the cervical spine with the shoulder controls the C3 and C4 cervical nerves. This muscle may become strained due to common activities such as:
In case the symptoms start right away after an incident such as falling after a sporting event, the cause may be obvious. However, if the pain due to stiff neck appears suddenly, pinpointing the cause of the neck pain can be difficult.
A stiff neck can sometimes be due to an underlying medical disorder of the spine that supports and moves the neck. There are various disorders that can result in a stiff neck.
The above is not a complete list that can cause a stiff neck. There are other causes of a stiff neck such as tumor and an infection. A stiff neck pain can vary in intensity ranging from minor pain to extreme pain. Trying to turn a stiff neck to a side will result in extreme pain and discomfort.
In most cases, a stiff neck doesn’t require any treatment. Giving rest to the soft tissues of the neck can result in relief from pain. In cases when the pain is significant, the doctor may be given pain medications. Surgery may be required if the pain does not subside after six months of nonsurgical options.