You’ve probably felt soreness and discomfort in the neck after sleeping in improper position, over-exercising or working at computer for a long time without changing a pose.
However sometimes your neck may become stiff as a result of serious conditions like infection, tumor or trauma.
The neck includes seven bony structures called vertebrae, which protect spinal canal and cord. There are special cushions (discs), located between neck bones. They normally reduce rubbing of the vertebrae and prevent their deterioration.
Besides these, your neck contains a lot of muscles, vessels, lymph nodes and nerves. It also involves thyroid and parathyroid glands, esophagus, throat and windpipe.
Many of us experience painful sensations in the neck, headache and difficulty turning the head and headache fro time to time. While in vast majority of cases it occurs because of muscle strain and sprain, it’s completely possible that stiffness indicates one of these conditions:
#1. Injury – neck is one of the most easily-injured body parts during car accidents, falls and other traumas. If neck bones are damaged, it’s possible that the spinal cord is affected too.
#2. Stress – emotional tension often manifests in muscle tightness, headache and physical discomfort. Try to fight off psychological factors with stretching, meditation, massage or cognitive behavioral therapy.
#3. Degenerative disc disease – in this disorder, cushions between the vertebrae lose their elasticity and become dehydrated. As a result, pressure on the joints, ligaments and muscle raises that may lead to stiffness in the neck.
#4. Meningitis – inflammation in the thin layer that coats the brain and spinal cord, is caused by infection and may be fatal, if not treated in time. In this situation neck stiffness is accompanied by high fever and severe headache.
#5. Spinal stenosis – extreme narrowing of the spinal column may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, causing pain and tightness. It often happens after long-lasting inflammation like osteoarthritis.
#6. Rheumatoid arthritis – autoimmune process, which triggers inflammation and swelling in the joints, may affect joints anywhere in the body, including the neck.
#7. Fibromyalgia – nobody knows, how can this disorder cause pain in different parts of the person’s body. In fact, fibromyalgia is diagnosed, if someone suffers from pain, discomfort and tingling in the muscles but no underlying condition is found during the thorough examination.
#8. Cancer – occasionally, abnormal, deathless cells may form a tumor near the spinal nerves and squeeze them, leading to stiffness, aching and other unpleasant feelings.