Neck pain is most often related to injury, tension, arthritis, or
chronic misuse of the neck. But in rare cases, neck stiffness may be a sign
of bleeding or infection (meningitis, encephalitis, or an abscess) within or
around the brain.
A stiff neck may be a symptom of one of these serious conditions
Develops rapidly and occurs along with other
symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting, fever, headache, sleepiness, confusion,
extreme grouchiness, or a seizure.
Occurs in the middle of the back
of the neck (not to one side or the other) and causes pain when the person
tilts the head backward or forward. The person may be unable to move the chin
toward the chest, for example.
Is unexplained (for example, there
was no injury and the person did not sleep in an awkward position).
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine