Most episodes of neck pain will improve with time and can be often addressed with non-surgical and conservative treatments. Nevertheless, there are few symptoms that may indicate more serious medical conditions that may require immediate attention.
The most common causes of a stiff neck include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Muscle strain or sprain located at the back and side of the neck from awkward sleep positions, physical activity, sports injuries, poor posture, or excessive stress.
- Infections such as meningococcal disease can cause stiff neck symptoms accompanied by fever, sleepiness, headache and nausea. Some bacterial infection causes inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord. It is advisable to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing these symptoms.
- Cervical spine disorders may lead to neck stiffness as a result of an underlying disorder in the cervical spine.
It is advisable to seek medical attention if your stiff neck symptoms do not subside after one week. Immediate medical attention is recommended if neck stiffness occurs after a traumatic injury, or if there are additional more serious symptoms such as a high fever or headache. Most cases of stiff neck may be treated within a few days.