stiff neck causes

Stiff Neck Causes

Many of us are quite familiar with at one time or another, having a stiff neck. Particularly we are familiar with its pain and inconvenience. Usually, people experience this condition after undergoing a strenuous activity or after waking up sleeping abnormally. Normally, the neck stiffness, inconvenience, and pain just go away naturally within a few days or a week at most. However, one can do things to speed up the recovery time and to relieve the neck pain and other symptoms.


There can be various reasons why a stiff neck develops. But the most common cause is a muscle strain, particularly the one affecting the levator scapulae muscle as this is more susceptible to injury. This muscle is located at the side and the back of the neck. It connects the neck’s spine to the shoulder. This explains why the pain and stiffness do no not only affect the affect, but the shoulders as well.

What causes the muscle strain? The following everyday activities are the common causes why the levator scapulae muscle gets strained:

  • Sleeping at an awkward position, particularly when the neck is bent in a certain position without movement for several hours.
  • Sports injuries or other injuries brought by a sudden impact which pushes the head to one side, affecting the neck.
  • Turning one’s head sideways repeatedly or suddenly.
  • Slouching and bending the neck in a poor posture, when one is reading, using a mobile phone or viewing the computer for long periods.
  • Tension in the neck due to excessive stress.
  • Holding or bending the neck in a poor position for long periods.


A stiff neck is characterized by pain and soreness in the neck, accompanied by difficulty in moving the neck, thus, with limited mobility. The symptoms can range from tolerable discomfort to extremely painful. The pain can be sharp and excruciating to the point that it can limit your movement. Turning one’s head sideways or in a particular direction can be very painful. Other accompanying symptoms include headache and pain on the shoulder down to the arm.

Stiff Neck Impact

A stiff neck can affect your daily activities. Because of the stiffness and the pain, it can be very difficult certain tasks. Even movements like turning your head sideways or downwards can be very painful and limited. During this time, it is best that you rest your neck and avoid straining the muscles even further. You must also avoid driving and other activities that could put your life in danger. 

Normally, the stiff neck just goes away on its own. However, if there is no improvement after a few days or a week, and especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms like sleepiness, vomiting, nausea and fever, it is best to seek a medical professional. If you need professional treatment for your stiff neck or any other pain condition, make an appointment with Arizona Pain and Spine Institute. Contact us today and get relief from your stiff neck pain.