The condition is also referred to as a stiff neck because movements of the neck and upper spine become limited. Sometimes one shoulder (and very rarely both shoulders) can be involved, which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as neck and shoulder pain.
Pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders can be anything from mild to severe. It can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-lasting) and be caused by any number of things: a strained muscle, a pinched nerve, rheumatism or various forms of arthritis.
The term “neck pain” covers quite a wide range of ailments with different causes. The main ones can be categorized as:
- Muscular problems
- Injuries or trauma
- Other spinal problems
Stiff neck from muscular problems is perhaps the most common cause of a stiff neck in modern society. Most of us will have experienced episodes of muscle strain in our neck or shoulders, sometimes referred to as a “crick in the neck.”
A stiff neck is almost always an acute problem. The pain arises suddenly (typically, we wake up with it) and tends to go away on its own within a week.
Causes of a stiff neck include:
- Sleeping in an awkward position or on an uncomfortable bed
- Stress, worries or anxiety
- An unusual amount of time driving
- Long hours in front of a computer
However, in many cases, no obvious cause can be found. Spasms in the muscles of the neck and shoulders make the pain worse, which in turn limits movement in the neck and upper spine.
A stiff neck can make normal everyday tasks more difficult. For instance, take special care when driving to make sure you can turn your head sufficiently to see the traffic around you.
Your neck and shoulders are closely bound together by muscles, bones, ligaments and nerves. These intricate connections mean that often pain in one area spreads to the next.
Not everyone complaining of neck and shoulder pain will experience the same type of pain.
- For some it will be a sharp twinge in a very specific area, for others a dull ache, spreading across a larger area. The type of pain you feel will depend on how you have hurt your shoulders and neck. Muscular pain is often described as a sharp twinge when you stretch a muscle in a particular way, while a dull ache is usually the result of flu or other viral infection
- If you experience numbness or a tingling in your arms along with your sore shoulder and neck, this may be an indication of a trapped nerve
- If you have broken a bone or have ruptured a ligament, this can cause your bones to move. You may notice changes in your bone structure if you have sustained this kind of injury
- You may experience stiffness in your shoulder and neck. This may be the result of a reluctance to move because it increases the pain, or it could be a physical inability to turn your neck because of muscle or nerve damage. It is important to distinguish between these two types of stiffness in order to establish the correct type of treatment.
The use of muscle rubs such as Absolüt Arnica Gel can provide relief from pain and symptoms. Absolüt Arnica Gel does not have an unpleasant odour and will not make you or your clothes smell after application.
Absolüt Arnica gel is a topical arnica remedy, a very powerful anti-inflammatory. Absolüt Arnica is a phytotherapeutic gel, not a homeopathic one; it thus contains a high concentration of Arnica.
Arnica contains sesquiterpenes lactones that can stop the inflammatory process. Absolüt Arnica also blocks the cartilage destruction process and soothes osteoarthritis pain.
A comparative study between Absolüt Arnica gel and a topical Ibuprofen gel proved that Absolüt Arnica gel is just as effective.
If trauma is involved, severe and sudden neck pain can be a symptom of a head injury or a slipped disc in the cervical spine. Neck pain can also be a sign of a condition known as bacterial meningitis. This is most often seen in children and is especially dangerous.
Neck pain (a stiff neck) is included in the symptoms, and if you recognize the other signs of meningitis from the list below, seek medical attention immediately:
- A flu-like feeling or general feeling of unwellness
- Neck pain or difficulty bending the neck forward
- Severe headache or vomiting (or both)
- A skin rash that doesn’t fade when you press on it with a glass or finger
- Eyes that are highly sensitive to light, requiring you to lie in a dark room