Stiff Neck - Carrollton, TX
Stiff Neck is a condition in which a patient experiences stiffness and restricted range of motion of the neck.  Seven vertebral columns along with various muscles, arteries and nerves form the neck, any damage to these may lead to soreness and irritation in the cervical spine.  

Causes

  • Strain or sprain in the neck muscles
  • Levator scapula is a muscle that connects cervical spine to the shoulder and is present at the back side of the neck. Inflammation in this muscle may cause strain or sprain leading to neck stiffness. Levator scapula can be damaged due to –
  • Wrong sleeping position
  • Sports injuries
  • Activities like swimming that require frequent turning of the head
  • Slouching while working on computer
  • Bending of neck while attending a phone call
  • Driving continuously for a long time period
  • Medical conditions like Cervical Herniated Disc or Osteoarthritis
  • Excessive mental stress may also put pressure on the cervical spine.
  • An injury involving forceful movement of the neck muscles and ligaments outside their normal range of motion, like a sudden jerk in the neck during a car accident.
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the lining that surrounds the spinal cord)

Symptoms

  • Difficulty in turning the head
  • Headache
  • Shoulder pain and tenderness
  • Pain running from neck to the arms

Diagnosis

The doctor may perform a physical exam by asking the patient to turn his head in order to check neck’s range of motion. He may ask about previous injuries that affected the spine in the past. The doctor may recommend certain imaging tests to diagnose severity of the condition. These may include -

  • X-ray –  This may be recommended to visualize the spine in order to check for an injury
  • CT  Scan -  To detect the signs of an infection in the neck’s soft tissues
  • MRI Scan -   This may be conducted to have a 3 dimensional view of the tissues.
  • Electromyography – The doctor may suggest electromyography to assess proper functioning of the nerves and muscles

Treatment

  • Rest – For the quick healing of injured neck tissues, the doctor may ask the patient to take rest for one or two days.
  • Heat and Ice Pack Therapy - To reduce inflammation and normalize the blood flow, the doctor may recommend use of heat and ice packs alternatively.
  • Medication – The patients may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines by the doctor to reduce affliction and swelling.
  • Exercises - Stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommend to increase the neck’s range of motion.