Orthopedic Treatment For Stiff Neck

Stiff Neck is a common problem that affects all people irrespective of gender or age. It is characterized by a sprain or strain of the soft tissues in the neck. The neck represents the upper part of the spinal canal that begins at the base of the skull. It comprises of 7 cervical vertebrae that are surrounded by the ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and muscles. Stress or injury to any of these constituent parts may lead to Stiff Neck.


  • Sleeping in an awkward position may stress the soft tissues
  • Prolonged working on the computer
  • Poor postural habits
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Acute Torticollis- Waking up with the neck twisted on one particular side
  • Carrying heavy weight above the head or on one shoulder
  • Cervical Spondylosis- Wear and tear of neck ligaments due to age and overuse
  • Whiplash- Sudden jerk to the neck caused by an external force or vehicular accident
  • Falls
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Sports injury


  • Pain in the head, neck, shoulders and may radiate down to the arms
  • Stiffness and difficulty in moving the neck
  • Muscle spasms around the neck and shoulders
  • The patient may feel a tingling sensation or pricks in the neck, arms and fingers
  • Numbness in the limbs and upper body
  • The muscles around the neck may feel swollen or tender


  • Details of the patient’s medical history, lifestyle and occupation may be taken into consideration
  • The patient may be asked to move the neck, shoulder and arms to check for range of motion
  • Palpation may be done to check for swelling
  • X-ray imaging may be required in some cases to diagnose the underlying cause
  • MRI and CT scan may help in identifying injuries to the soft tissue structures


In most cases, Stiff Neck is not a serious condition and the symptoms can be managed through conservative treatment methods. These may include the following:

  • Heat pads may be used around the affected area to alleviate stiffness and pain
  • Ice packs may also be applied to prevent inflammation and improve blood circulation
  • Pain killers and anti inflammatory medicines may be prescribed by the orthopedic doctor
  • Avoid using laptop and maintain a good posture till the pain subsides
  • A soft neck collar may be helpful but it should be used only for a couple of days
  • Use a soft pillow to rest the head
  • Gentle exercises may be helpful in improving flexibility of the neck and upper body

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