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Is Your Stiff Neck Serious?

By Sara Butler

Stiff necks happen. You could wake up in the morning with one after sleeping in the wrong position. You may have one after going swimming or a particularly tough workout at the gym. Most of the time, a stiff neck isn't anything to be concerned about, but sometimes it can be an indication of a serious problem. How do you know when a stiff neck is serious? Read on to find out.

Signs You Should Be Concerned

If you've not sustained a strain or a sprain and are experiencing a stiff neck, then you can tell something more serious is going on by the symptoms that accompany your stiff neck. The symptoms that should concern you when displayed with a stiff neck include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Change in mental state
  • Weight loss
  • Coordination issues

These are considered red flags and could mean there's potentially a serious issue causing your stiff neck. If you experience these symptoms, then you need to consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.

Conditions That Are Serious

A stiff neck can be caused by a variety of issues. Some of the most serious include:

  • Meningitis - This is an infection of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord that lead to inflammation. It's a very serious condition that can lead to a stiff neck. If you have a stiff neck along with a fever and headache, get medical help immediately.
  • Other infections - Meningitis may be the most serious, but other infections can cause a stiff neck so it's best to get checked out
  • Cervical dystonia - This is a neurological issue that can cause the neck muscles to spasm uncontrollably, forcing the neck into unnatural positions
  • Tumors - Rare but serious, tumors in the bottom part of the brain called the cerebellum can lead to a stiff neck. That's why anytime you have a stiff neck with weight loss and other symptoms, you should have it checked by a medical professional.

This isn't an exhaustive list of issues that can cause a stiff neck but it does help to spell out how potentially serious a stiff neck can be. If you have a stiff neck, then you need to get it checked out by the chiropractor as soon as possible to ensure it's not something more serious.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Aurora, Colo.

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