Stiff Neck: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Stiffness in the neck can arise as a result of disorders and diseases of any structure in the neck. The neck contains seven cervical vertebrae that are the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck; these vertebrae surround the spinal cord and canal. Between these vertebrae are discs, and nearby pass the nerves of the neck. Within the neck, other structures and organs include the neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Neck stiffness can be associated with symptoms such as

Stiff neck is most commonly due to damage to the bones, nerves, and/or muscles of the neck. However, stiff neck is also a symptom of meningitis (along with headache and fever). Neck stiffness may also develop as a reaction and result of muscle spasm in various conditions that cause neck pain, including traumatic injuries.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/19/2017
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