Stiff neck pain can be attributed to anything from muscle spasms to injuries to serious medical conditions. Neck pain can also cause referred or radiating pain into other areas. Regardless, stiff neck pain and its related symptoms should never be ignored.
Common Causes of Stiff Neck
Neck strain, spasms and stress are common causes of a stiff neck. Neck strains, which are the pulling or tearing of muscles, can occur from being in an awkward position for a prolonged period or from overuse. Resultant spasms then typically cause neck pain. Stress also plays a role, as prolonged tension can result in neck stiffness.
Stiff Neck from Injury
Injury to the neck area can also cause pain. Whiplash or a fall can cause an injury to the neck muscles or ligaments and cause sudden, severe neck pain. Injury to the spinal cord in the neck region, including things such as dislocations, fractures, arthritis and disc problems, can also produce pain.
Serious Causes of Stiff Neck
Other more serious health issues can cause neck stiffness, such as influenza or meningitis, a serious bacterial or viral infection affecting the meninges. or the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. A heart attack can also cause sudden neck pain.
Common Symptoms of a Stiff Neck
Symptoms of a stiff neck can range from a dull, nagging ache to tightness to a sudden, sharp pain or numbness and tingling sensations. But stiff neck pain is not confined to the neck area. Tightness and spasms in the neck region can cause radiating pain into the shoulders, chest and arms, or even up into the head. Damage to the spine from a bulging disc or arthritic changes can cause the nerves of the neck to become pinched. This can result in radiating or referred pain, which is that felt in another area away from the source.
Serious Symptoms of Stiff Neck
Stiff neck pain from illness or health emergencies can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, dizziness, fever and general body aches. Loss of movement or control of muscles, loss of sensation, or loss of bowel or bladder control can also occur, indicating a more serious problem. Neck pain in conjunction with any other symptoms, or as a result of an injury, requires immediate medical attention to avoid further complications or illness.
Treatment for Stiff Neck
Treatment for stiff neck depends on the cause. Tightness or spasms from awkward positions or stress, for example, can typically be relieved by adjusting position, gentle stretching and the application of ice or heat. Stiff neck pain from an injury or a pain accompanied with any other symptoms may be a sign of a medical emergency and should be checked out by a qualified medical professional.
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