Stiff Neck: Is It Serious?

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Stiff Neck: Is It Serious?
Stiff Neck: Is It Serious?

Neck stiffness and soreness are generally not a worrying condition. However, you still need to be vigilant, especially if the stiff neck does not improve or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever and severe headache, because these can be signs of a serious illness

Most people have probably experienced a stiff neck, especially when they wake up in the morning or after doing some strenuous activity. Usually a stiff neck complaint appears along with other complaints, such as neck pain, difficulty moving the neck, headaches, and shoulder or arm pain.

Stiff Neck: Is It Serious? - Alodokter

A harmless stiff neck will usually subside on its own within a few days or about a week. However, if this complaint persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, you need to be vigilant because this could be caused by certain diseases.

Recognizing Stiff Neck Conditions

In most cases, the most common cause of a stiff neck is a muscle strain or sprain in the neck. This complaint can be caused by various things, for example:

  • Injury to muscles or ligaments in the neck due to sudden neck movements, for example, frequent neck crunching
  • Often carrying heavy and unbalanced loads, for example a backpack that contains a lot of items
  • The habit of sleeping in an awkward and uncomfortable position or too many pillows
  • Poor posture or body position, for example when sitting at a table for a long time or bending over often
  • Experiencing excessive stress or anxiety

When you have a stiff neck, you can relieve it in a few simple ways:

  • Use one pillow while sleeping.
  • Position the head so that it is not bent and too high when sleeping. Make sure the head of the rest of the body remains parallel when lying down.
  • Give a cold compress on a stiff neck with a cloth wrapped in ice or soaked in cold water for about 15-20 minutes. This step can be repeated 2-3 times a day until the neck feels more comfortable and does not swell. After that, you can give a warm compress to make the neck muscles more relaxed and comfortable.
  • Move your neck slowly and avoid the habit of snapping your neck.
  • Do a gentle massage on the neck and shoulders to make the muscles more relaxed.
  • Use pain-relieving gels or creams, such as those containing ibuprofen or diclofenac sodium. You can also use oral medication to relieve pain, such as paracetamol.

Stiff Neck Conditions to Watch Out for

Although it can heal in a few days, a stiff neck can also be a sign of a serious condition, especially if the pain is prolonged or accompanied by other symptoms. Here are some diseases to watch out for as possible causes of a stiff neck:

1. Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord due to a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. This disease can cause symptoms in the form of neck pain and neck stiffness and difficulty moving.

Neck pain and stiffness due to meningitis usually won't go away with a change in neck position or regular painkillers.

In addition to a stiff neck, meningitis can also cause the following symptoms:

  • severe headache
  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Seizure
  • Sensitive to light
  • No appetite
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

Meningitis is a dangerous condition and needs to be treated immediately by a doctor. Without proper treatment, this disease can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

2. Torticollis

Stiff neck due to torticollis is usually accompanied by complaints of neck pain, bends, and cramps or twitches in the neck muscles. Torticollis can occur in children as well as adults. Torticollis can be caused by many things, such as genetic disorders, neurological disorders, infections, and injuries.

Torticollis can heal on its own without special treatment, but sometimes it can persist and cause difficulties in activities.

3. Cervical spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a condition when the bones, ligaments, and muscles in the neck become inflamed, resulting in stiff and painful neck symptoms.

The nagging pain in the neck due to this condition usually gets worse when the neck is moved. In addition, sufferers of this neck problem may also experience dizziness and headaches.

Most cases of stiff neck due to arthritis of the neck will go away on its own. However, if the stiff neck persists for more than a few days and is accompanied by difficulty walking or muscle weakness in the arms or legs, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.

4. Rheumatoid arthritis

Stiff neck is also one of the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.The severity can vary, some experience a throbbing pain in the back of the neck, and some may experience stiffness and swelling of the neck joints, making it more difficult to move the head.

In addition, sufferers may also experience headaches that will feel worse when the neck and head are moved.

In the case of stiff neck due to rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain and stiffness will get worse, if this disease is not treated. Even if the symptoms have improved, the inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness of the neck can still come back.

Those are some of the causes of stiff neck complaints that you need to pay attention to. Mild neck stiffness that subsides on its own is generally not a serious condition.

However, if you experience a stiff neck that does not go away for more than a week and is accompanied by symptoms of fever, headache, seizures, and nausea and vomiting, immediately consult a doctor so that it can be treated properly.

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