What causes stiff neck? 20 possible conditions

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

1

Neck Pain

Your neck (cervical spine) is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical disks absorb shock between the bones. The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allo...

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2

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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3

Tetanus

Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and causes muscles to tighten. Commonly called lockjaw, it primarily causes muscle contractions in the jaw and neck. It can be life-threatening.

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4

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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5

Sprains & Strains

Sprains and strains are injuries to the body, often resulting from physical activity. These injuries are common and can range from minor to severe, depending on the incident. Most don't require medical attention.

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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

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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8

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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9

Head Injury

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

A head injury could be an injury to the brain, skull, or scalp. It can vary in severity depending on the cause. In some cases face swelling can be a sign of a head injury.

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10

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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11

Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, often called "mono," is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It typically occurs in teenagers, but you can get it at any age. The virus is spread through saliva, which is why some peopl...

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12

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infectious disease. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. B. burgdorferi is transmitted to humans via a tick bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick become...

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13

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially fatal contagious disease that can affect almost any part of the body but is mainly an infection of the lungs.

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14

Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a type of lung infection. It is caused by inhaling Histoplasma capsulatum fungal spores. Spores are found in soil and in the droppings of bats and birds. This fungus mainly grows in the central...

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15

West Nile Virus Infection (West Nile Fever)

A mosquito bite can turn into something much more severe if you are infected with West Nile virus. Mosquitoes transmit this virus after they bite an infected bird and then bite a person. While not all people wit...

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16

Skull Fractures

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

A skull fracture is any break in the cranial bone , also known as the skull. There are many types of skull fractures, but only one cause: an impact or a blow to the head that is strong enough to break the bone. Th...

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17

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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18

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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19

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. A brain abscess can form when fungi...

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20

Meningeal Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious airborne disease that typically affects the lungs. TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. If a TB infection is not treated promptly, the bacterium can trave...

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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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