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What Causes A Stiff Neck All Of A Sudden & What Is The Best Painkiller For It?

The neck of a person contains ligaments, muscles, bones, and tendons, all of which work to give support to the head and in turn, allow its movement in different directions. However, the neck of an individual becomes stiff or causes pain when he or she overuse it or suffers any type of injury. A stiff neck usually takes place whenever a particular muscle becomes tense or strained and it develops when a particular vertebre suffers injury. A stiff neck causes pain whenever an individual tries to move the head or neck.

What Causes A Stiff Neck All Of A Sudden?

What Causes A Stiff Neck All Of A Sudden?

Stiffness in the neck often takes place whenever people overuse their neck muscles, stretched them excessively or strain them. Each of these actions causes mild to severe type of pain, which make the movement of one’s head or using the neck muscles too much difficult. Common causes related to stiff neck include the following-

Minor Strains And Sprains

The stiff neck often takes place from minor strains or sprains possibly because of-

  • Sleeping in an awkward manner
  • Slouching or sitting in front of the computer screen or at a desk for many hours
  • Looking at your cell phone or any other object placed down repeatedly
  • Experience a slip and fall incident
  • Tense muscles because of stress


Many people experience neck injuries or pain in severe form due to whiplash at the time of car accidents. This is because; accidents cause sudden forward and backward jerk to the head. Whiplash injury often takes place to your bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments of your neck and even in each of these areas. In addition, whiplash causes stiffness and pain in your neck. Major symptoms related to whiplash include dizziness, headache, shoulder or back pain, a feeling of burning or prickling in neck areas, difficulty in concentration and memory loss.

Cervical Spondylosis/Arthritis

Neck arthritis/cervical spondylosis may cause both sudden neck stiffness and neck pain and it improves while you opt for lying down. The pain, in this case, becomes worse whenever an individual remains in any position for a relatively long time, like sitting or working in front of a laptop or computer. Along with this, cervical spondylosis involves a few other symptoms, such as numbness in the hands or arms, headaches, weakness in the legs and/or arms, difficulty in walking or obtaining balance.


In some of the cases, stiffness in the neck indicates meningitis i.e. the inflammation of meninges or coverings on your spinal cord and brain. Meningitis is further classified into bacterial, viral and fungal meningitis, among which fungal and bacterial ones are of life-threatening. A few common symptoms of meningitis are-

  • Sudden fever, which takes place with a stiff neck, headache or both
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Sensitivity towards light
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Incapability to wake from a deep sleep

What Is The Best Painkiller For Stiff Neck?

Doctors recommend you taking a few of the NSAIDs i.e. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs to cure neck stiffness on a temporary basis. A few examples under this category are naproxen and ibuprofen, both of which are able to reduce swelling and relieve your pain. However, if you have any other health condition and are already taking other medicines, you should make sure asking your doctor before using any of the NSAIDs.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324070.php

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 22, 2019

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