Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In many cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. Sometimes, neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash.
Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a serious condition and can be relieved within a few days. However, if you have neck pain that continues for more than a week, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Causes of Neck Pain
* Muscle tension and strain
This is usually due to activities and behaviors such as:
- poor posture
- working at a desk for too long without changing position
- sleeping with your neck in a bad position
The neck is particularly vulnerable to injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move outside of their normal range. Neck injury due to sudden jerking of the head is commonly called “whiplash.”
* Heart attack
Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack, but it often presents with other symptoms of a heart attack.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. In people who have meningitis, a fever and a headache often occur with a stiff neck. Meningitis can be fatal and is a medical emergency.
When to Consult a Doctor
A sharp, throbbing pain in the back of your head is usually harmless and can be managed well. However, as we'vr mentioned in this article, headaches and neck pain can be symptoms of more serious health conditions.
The National Headache Foundation recommends visiting a healthcare professional if you have any of the following conditions:
- Frequent headaches that are severe and come on quickly
- Your headaches are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, confusion, fever, slurred speech, stiff neck, vision loss, frequent bouts of diarrhea
- You have constant throbbing pains in your head that get worse or won’t stop.
- Headaches are affecting your daily activities.
- You have a headache following a head injury.
- You have to take pain-relief medication more than 2 days a week.