A stiff neck is typically characterized by soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head to the side. A stiff neck may also be accompanied by a headache, neck pain, shoulder pain and/or arm pain, and cause the individual to turn the entire body as opposed to the neck when trying to look sideways or backward.
In the vast majority of cases, a stiff neck is caused by a simple muscle strain or sprain and may be treated within a few days.
As a general rule, it is advisable to seek medical attention if the stiff neck symptoms do not subside after one week, or if the neck symptoms occur along with other troubling symptoms, as there may be an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.
Your GP will examine your neck and ask some questions to help identify any underlying condition. They may also prescribe a stronger painkiller, such as codeine, to take with your usual over-the-counter painkillers.
If you have had neck pain or stiffness for a month or more, your GP may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
Watch this video for more information on the exercises that can help: