What causes headache and stiff neck? 15 possible conditions

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Meningitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. It may cause headache and fever in teens and adults, irritability in babies, and trouble breathing in young children.

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2

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

This life-threatening hemorrhage involves bleeding between the brain and the tissues that cover it. If you experience an extreme headache, a popping sound in your head, seizures, and other symptoms, seek immediate help.

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3

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when a person's neck is forced backward and then forward very suddenly. Whiplash results when the soft tissues–the muscles and ligaments–of your neck are extended beyond their typical range of motion.

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4

Encephalitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue usually caused by viral infection. Mild symptoms include fever, headache, and vomiting. Seizure, unconsciousness, and high fever are severe signs.

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5

Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, or "mono," is a group of symptoms caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. One potential symptom is a pink rash that looks like the measles.

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6

Wry Neck (Torticollis)

Wry neck (Torticollis) is a tilted and twisted neck that can be congenital or result from muscle injury, swollen lymph nodes, ear infection, or other causes.

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7

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a condition that results from the wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the cervical spine. One sign is tingling in the shoulders and arms, and sometimes the legs.

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8

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infectious condition transmitted via tick bite. A "bull's eye" rash at the site of the bite is an early symptom of this disease.

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9

West Nile Virus Infection (West Nile Fever)

Spread by mosquitos, West Nile virus symptoms can vary in severity. Diarrhea and abdominal pain usually appears within two weeks of infection.

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10

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. A severe and long-lasting cough, fever, and night sweats could indicate an active TB infection.

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11

Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a noncommunicable disease caused by certain fungal spores. Red bumps on the lower legs are one sign of this condition.

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12

Skull Fractures

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A skull fracture is any break in the cranial bone, or the skull. It can result in bleeding, bruising, pain, and swelling. Less severe symptoms include headache, nausea, confusion, and blurred vision.

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13

Cryptococcal Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection and inflammation of the meninges. Your meninges are the membranes that cover your spinal cord and your brain. Meningitis can be caused by many different germs, including bacteria, fungi, an...

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14

Syphilitic Meningitis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Left untreated, it can lead to meningitis. This is an infection of the layers of tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. Syphilitic meningitis is also calle...

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15

Brain Abscess

An abscess of the brain is usually the result of a bacterial or fungal infection. The infection will cause your brain to swell from the collection of pus and dead cells that form, causing severe symptoms.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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