Stiff neck

What is a Stiff Neck?

A stiff neck is a condition in which discomfort or pain is felt in the back of the neck. It is usually accompanied by reduced range of motion in the neck. A stiff neck can be caused by overusing or straining the neck muscles, sleeping in an awkward position, or minor injuries.

Symptoms of a Stiff Neck

The most common symptom of a stiff neck is pain or discomfort in the neck and shoulders when turning the head. Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty lifting, turning, or bending the head
  • Tightness in the neck and shoulders when turning the head
  • Muscle spasms in the neck or shoulders
  • Tenderness or soreness in the neck and shoulders

Causes of a Stiff Neck

A stiff neck is usually caused by poor posture, overuse of the neck muscles, or minor injuries. Other causes include:

  • Sleeping in an awkward position
  • Muscle strain from excessive computer use or texting
  • Arthritis or degenerative joint disease
  • Injury to the neck or shoulders
  • Infections such as meningitis
  • Tumors in the spine or neck

Treatment for a Stiff Neck

Home treatments can help relieve the pain of a stiff neck. These include:

  • Resting the neck and shoulders
  • Applying a heating pad or taking a hot bath
  • Gently stretching and exercising the neck muscles
  • Using ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Applying a topical cream that contains capsaicin or menthol
  • Massage therapy
  • Getting plenty of sleep and avoiding stressful situations

If the condition persists or worsens, it is important to see a doctor to rule out serious medical conditions. The doctor may recommend physical therapy, injections, or surgery depending on the severity of the issue.