Medically the evaluation by Gregory Minnis, DPT, Physical therapy — composed by Jennifer Berry on January 2, 2019

The neck contains muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. These occupational together to support the head and permit it to move in plenty of directions. The neck may end up being stiff or painful as soon as overused or injured.

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A stubborn neck often occurs as soon as one that the muscles becomes strained or tense. Stiffness can also develop if one or much more of the vertebrae is injured.

A stubborn neck may come to be painful as soon as a human tries to move their neck or head.

Usually, a stubborn neck results from a young injury or incident. People can often relieve the stiffness in ~ home. In rarely cases, however, it deserve to be a sign of a serious condition that requires clinical treatment.

Stiffness commonly occurs as soon as the neck muscles room overused, stretched too far, or strained. This can reason pain varying from gentle to significant that can make it challenging to relocate the head or usage the neck muscles.

The many common reasons of a stubborn neck include:

Minor sprains and also strains

Share top top PinterestSleeping in an awkward position can reason a stubborn neck.
A stiff neck regularly results native minor injury or strain, perhaps due to:

sleeping awkwardlysitting or slouching for lengthy periods, such as at a desklooking under at things (such as a cell phone) repeatedlysustaining a sports injuryexperiencing a fall


More severe neck injuries can cause whiplash. Human being often endure whiplash during car crashes that reason the head to suddenly jerk forward and backward.

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

Other symptom of whiplash include:

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


Cervical spondylosis, or arthritis of the neck, can likewise cause neck pain and also stiffness, which may boost when lie down.

The ache may gain worse once a human being stays in the same position for a long period, such together while control or sitting in former of a computer. Various other symptoms of 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 through the help of details tests, such together an X-ray, MRI scan, and a blood test.


Sometimes, a stiff neck is a symptom the meningitis, which have the right to be serious. Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which room coverings ~ above the brain and spinal cord.

A virus, bacteria, or mushroom may cause meningitis. Famous meningitis deserve to get better on that own, however bacterial and fungal meningitis can be life-threatening. Part symptoms of meningitis include:

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

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

Using one ice fill can help relieve inflammation and also swelling ~ a boy strain. The ice have the right to have a numbing effect, temporarily relieving any type of pain.

This therapy is typically most effective within the first 48 hours of one injury, once there tends to be the most far-ranging swelling.

Use a first aid ice fill or sheathe a bag of ice cream or frozen peas v a cloth to stop frostbite. Use the ice for as much as 20 minutes at a time, taking 20–30-minute breaks.

Applying heat

Some people alternate using ice and heat top top a muscle strain. Using 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 not relieve the pain of a stubborn neck, acquisition nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) may help.

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


Stretch the neck muscle by gently and slowly moving the head from next to side. Roll the shoulders forward and also backward. Avoid if the stretches cause pain.

Checking the sleep environment

Sometimes, a mattress the is too firm or no supportive enough can reason neck pain. A pillow that is the incorrect dimension or firmness may additionally cause a stiff neck.

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

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

Paying fist to posture

Slouching can slowly pull the neck muscles and cause stiffness and pain. A person should emphasis on maintaining the shoulders, neck, and ago in a straight line throughout the day. Wearing a posture-correcting machine may help, together can setting reminders and alarms ~ above a cell phone or computer.

See a dentist

Ongoing stiffness in the neck attach by a headache or jaw pain upon waking have the right to be a authorize of nighttime this grinding, or bruxism. A dentist can inspect the this for indications of wear native grinding, and they may look at the alignment that the jaw.

Some world wear a custom-made teeth guard in ~ night to defend the teeth from additional damage. This may additionally alleviate press on the jaw and also neck muscles.

Getting a massage

A licensed massage therapist might help carry out relief indigenous tense, sore muscles. Although research has not yet proven the massage is effective, a examine from 2014 uncovered that massage did enhance pain for human being with neck arthritis.

Other research published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that having a experienced massage can aid relieve stress, which may indirectly assist with stiffness in the neck.

Managing stress

There is no method to totally avoid stress. However, finding out to regulate it have the right to reduce stress and anxiety in the neck.

People through high levels of chronic stress may wish come talk through a medical care professional about healthful means to regulate stress.

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Some the the complying with measures can aid prevent a stubborn neck:

Use an earpiece to speak on the phone. Protect against holding the phone between the shoulder and ear.Try not to look under at a mobile or tablet computer for lengthy periods. Organize the device at eye level whenever feasible and take regular breaks.Use ideal ergonomics at work. This may encompass keeping the display screen at eye level, maintaining the feet level on the floor, and also making certain the arms space supported. Also, focus on keeping the head directly over the neck there is no craning that forward.Be mindful when carrying bags. Moving a hefty purse or briefcase deserve to put press on the shoulder and strain the muscles in the neck. Use rolling bags or backpacks whenever possible.Take breaks. Sitting or control for lengthy periods can strain the neck. Get up, walk, and stretch at the very least once every hour.Invest in a high-quality mattress and pillow that administer the exactly amount the support.Regularly connect in stress-relieving activities. Part examples encompass listening to relaxing music, taking baths, practicing meditation or deep breathing, and enjoying a course or favorite activity.See a health care provider as recommended. Talk with them around pain, stress levels, sleep quality, and also overall well-being.