Stiff neck


A feeling of soreness or pain in the neck when moving it or turning the head from side to side.


Gentle stretching, heat or ice, and massage might help. So might medicines available without a prescription, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

When to seek immediate medical care

See a health care professional right away for:

  • Traumatic injury, such as from car crashes, diving accidents or falls.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Fever.

When to make a doctor's appointment

Make an appointment to see a health care professional if the stiffness:

  • Gets worse even with self-care.
  • Doesn't go away after several weeks of self-care.
  • Causes pain that travels down the arms or legs.
  • Comes with headache, weakness, numbness or tingling.