STIFF NECK – causes and treatment


Torticollis, also known as stiff neck or loxia, is a dystonic condition defined by an abnormal, asymmetrical head or neck position, which may be due to a variety of causes. The term torticollis is derived from the Latin words tortus for twisted and collum for neck.


Correct positioning is important, and most pediatricians recommend parents reposition baby’s head every 2–3 hours during waking hours. (At feeding time, diaper changes, while baby sleeps, etc.)

If torticollis is not corrected, facial asymmetry often develops. Head position needs to be corrected before the approximate age of 18 months for improvement to occur. Younger children show the best results.

Common treatments might involve a multi-phase process:

  1. Neck and shoulder stability exercises
  2. Stretches
  3. Manipulation of the neck by an Doctor of Chiropractic, Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, Massage Therapist or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
  4. Extended heat application
  5. Massage


The patient complains of a stiff neck hit by a marked difficulty to bend, spin or stretch the neck; every movement of this area produces a local pain sharp, piercing and unbearable.

  1. The clinical picture of a stiff neck joint is characterized by:
  2. Brachialgia: painful condition in the neck that radiates even level of the arm
  3. Cervical pain: neck pain generic nature of musculo-skeletal
  4. Stiffness of neck muscles
  5. Failure / inability to move, move, or spin the neck


  • Take courses type relaxation yoga or pilates. Stress can in fact accentuate the neck pain caused by stiff neck
  • Run compresses on your neck sore. Start first with cool compresses; after a couple of days, it is suggested to carry warm compresses
  • Apply on sore neck ice bag wrapped in a soft cloth. Cryotherapy helps to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain
  • Perform physiotherapy massages specific to the cervical spine, done by qualified and experienced personnel
  • Rest on a proper mattress, which must not be too soft
  • On the occasion of torticollis, during the night, it is advisable to rest his head on a pillow orthopedic-specific neck pain. Alternatively, sleep without a pillow
  • Osteopathic treatment is useful to relieve any compromise of the nerve in the cervical
  • Correct any incorrect living habits (eg. Poor posture, stress positions during sleep, etc..)
  • Seek medical attention immediately in case of sudden stiff neck, not dependent on any apparent cause. In such situations, it is suspected a viral infection in the course
  • Take medication only under prescription / medical advice
  • Combining drug therapy to physiotherapy massages performed by skilled medical figures
  • Prefer solid chairs, so that the neck and back are supported
  • Wrap a cloth on itself and place it behind your back, in the lumbar region. This remedy is useful for supporting the spine, is particularly suitable for patients with torticollis who, for business reasons, they are forced to sit for a long time
  • The pain derived from a stiff neck can be relieved by assuming a particular posture during office work: keep your head up and your chin slightly bend backwards
    Perfectly adjust the position of your computer screen: doing so will prevent you from turning the head or the eyes to continually move up or down the screen


 To avoid

  • Practicing massage do it yourself”. The cervical spine is a very delicate area, so the massage for stiff neck should be performed by competent and qualified figures
  • Temporize. When you suspect a herniated cervical disc, it is recommended to seek medical attention immediately to start as soon as possible conservative treatment
  • Tennis or power sports
  • Extend beyond the due application of an ice pack on his neck. To achieve maximum therapeutic efficacy of the ice, it is recommended to remove it every 15-20 minutes, interspersing with breaks of equal duration
  • Excessive intake of painkillers. The use of excessive and unregulated drugs can cause serious side effects
  • Rest excessive: even the rest for too long is not conducive to a stiff neck. An excess of rest indeed favors the stiffness of joints and muscles, already weakened. Rather, assume a restful position for 30 minutes; then we recommend a walk or a light exercise physiotherapy, specific for torticollis
  • Lift heavy loads on the occasion of neck pain
  • Bend your head while you write to your computer. The screen should be at the proper location
  • Perform the exercises for neck pain quickly and sudden movements. Such behavior may even aggravate the torticollis
  • Give aspirin to children under the age of 12 years, a similar behavior can cause serious side effects, including Reye’s syndrome, liver dysfunction and brain abnormalities
  • Take milk and dairy products immediately after the administration of antibiotics like tetracyclines: dairy products can inactivate the drug


What to Eat and What Not Eating

  • Take yogurt with live yoghurt or a probiotic in case of prolonged antibiotic therapy (to strengthen the immune system). Let us recall that a stiff neck can be achieved even for bacterial infections requiring antibiotic therapy.
  • There is no scientific evidence that the food relations with the improvement or worsening of the symptoms of stiff neck. It is recommended to follow a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and low in fat. After any surgery (eg. Care of torticollis derived from cervical disc herniation or malformations), it is recommended to follow a light diet and balanced, suggested by a nutritionist or a health authority figure.