Neck pain and stiffness can stem from several different causes, and each root cause is best addressed with a specific treatment program. Stress and poor posture are the most common causes of this sort of problem, and stiff neck treatment to address these issues can typically be performed at home. Injuries and physical damage from sources ranging from arthritis to spinal injury can also lead to a stiff neck and require treatment appropriate to the type of injury. Some infections can also cause neck problems, and the appropriate stiff neck treatment in such cases involves managing the underlying infection.
In most cases, a stiff neck is the result of stress or time spent in awkward and unnatural positions. Stress is a common part of modern life, and a wide variety of ordinary activities, ranging from sleeping to computer use can contort the body in ways that place stress on the neck. The standard stiff neck treatment for this sort of problem involves first mitigating the effects of stiffness and then changing the underlying lifestyle or physical causes of the stiffness.
A stiff neck treatment designed to cure tension or posture-related problems generally includes pain relievers. These allow a patient to relax but should be used with care, as further injury can be done while on pain medication because it is difficult to respond appropriately to fresh pain. Light massage can be helpful, as can heat, but heat should be avoided if there is a possibility that a sprain or other injury is partly to blame for the stiffness.
Stiff neck treatment for problems caused by posture and tension also includes preventative measures. Poor sleeping posture is a common cause of neck problems as is incorrect posture at work, especially for men and women in office environments, who may spend many long hours in front of computer screens with few rest breaks. Better furniture, pillows, and office arrangement are often part of this type of stiff neck treatment as is the incorporation of short breaks and stretching in the middle of long work shifts.
Some stiff necks are caused by injuries to muscle, bone, nerves, or ligaments. These injuries can be serious and should typically be evaluated by a healthcare provider. Stiff neck treatment in these cases usually combines support for the head, to prevent further injury while the body heals, with a program of rest and the avoidance of activities that may exacerbate the injury.
Some patients may experience a stiff neck as a result of an infection, most commonly an influenza infection but occasionally meningitis. Influenza is quite contagious and can pose serious health risks but is most often treated with bed rest and supportive care, although antiviral drugs may be used in serious cases. Meningitis can be an extremely serious condition, and bacterial meningitis can prove fatal. A patient with a stiff neck caused by bacterial meningitis will be treated with an extremely aggressive course of antibiotics.