Reasons for Your Stiff Neck

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Reasons for Your Stiff Neck

November 6, 2019


The soreness and restricted movement can render daily operations hard if you have a stiff neck. Symptoms typically last from a day or two to a few weeks and may be followed by headaches, pain in the chest, and/or pain that radiates down the arm. Occasionally, the symptoms may last for weeks, months, or years when the underlying cause is more severe. Here are some prospective causes of a stiff neck and when it can be something more severe, and you need to visit a primary care physician in OKC.

Strain in Muscle

Any exercise that places your neck awkward for extended moments may trigger fatigue and spasm in the neck muscles. For instance, holding your phone against your shoulder while you’re talking, sleeping at an awkward angle with your neck, carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder, or looking too far down or up to see your computer screen or a TV can all cause stiffness in your neck.

CSD or Cervical Spine Disorder

The cervical spine includes all discs, bones, joints, muscles, and nerves of your neck. Your spinal cord also passes in your cervical spine through the middle of the vertebrae (bones).

Any or all of these components of your cervical spine may get worn down or wounded over time, causing neck stiffness, pain, and/or potential neurological issues. Some frequently occurring cervical spine disorders include:

Cervical Osteoarthritis

The facet joints in your spine’s back may become arthritic and painful over time. Also known as spondylosis, facet arthritis can invade the roots of your spinal nerve and potentially the spinal cord region. This may evolve in combination with different kinds of degeneration in the spine, like degenerative disk disease, so you may need to visit your primary care physician in OKC referring to both circumstances. Symptoms may include neck pain and stiffness and patterns of referral pain in the shoulder and scapular region that refer to pain and stiffness. If symptoms involve the spinal nerve roots, arm pain and/or tingling, numbness, and potentially trouble walking when involving the spinal cord.

Disc Problem

Spinal discs are structures of soft tissue that cushion your spine between each vertebra. One or more discs may herniate or degenerate within your neck over time. Like cervical arthritis, cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD) can also trigger pain and stiffness and irritate the nerve roots, leading to pain, tingling, numbness, and potential trouble while walking as it engages the spinal cord.

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infection in the brain and spinal cord’s fluid membrane and elevated fever, headache, and nausea create inflammation and neck stiffness. If you notice any symptoms indicating meningitis, seek instant medical attention. Other severe inflammations can also lead to a stiff neck in the spine and vertebrae, including meningococcal disease or vertebral osteomyelitis. Discomfort to light, fever, stiff neck, and nausea could be symptoms of a viral infection like the flu.

Neck Injury

Neck injuries caused by a sporting mishap, slip and fall, or any other accident where your head is violently jerked around can lead to muscle wounds, sprains, and maybe even strains on your neck’s ligaments. These injuries are mainly caused by neck stiffness and pain.


Osteoarthritis is age-related daily wear and tear of your neck joints, often leading to stiffness and restricting neck motion.  While RA is an autoimmune disorder that can cause serious neck pain and stiffness to impact your neck joints along the upper portion of your neck. Sometimes arthritis also contributes to narrowing your spinal canal, leading to a pinched nerve that causes pain to radiate down your arms and legs and neck stiffness.

Treatment by Primary Care Physician

If the symptoms of the stiff neck persist for more than a week, medical attention by a primary care physician in OKC may be needed, particularly if other symptoms are stated above. Your doctor may order an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan to diagnose the cause of your stiff neck and a physical examination. Your therapy will rely on what causes it but will usually include original therapy for the more prevalent strained muscles of the neck:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or NSAIDs for pain relief.

  • Ice on the stiff neck to reduce inflammation for the first 48 to 72 hours, then switch to a heat compress or even take a hot shower to soothe your muscles.

  • You may need to wear a cervical collar to rest your neck muscles.

  • Limit your neck’s physical activity.

  • Seek physical therapist assistance.

  • Get a neck and shoulder massage.

  • Practice easy exercises stretching your neck, like shifting your head gently up and down and side by side.

  • Sleep with a neck pillow on a strong mattress for adequate assistance.

  • Let your physician know if your stiff neck gets worse because you may need more specialized care to alleviate your symptoms.

Contact primary care physician in OKC at Oklahoma Pain Doc.

**Disclaimer: This content should not be considered medical advice and does not imply a doctor-patient relationship.

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