Neck pain when turning the head

neck pain when turning the head

The neck is above all the most mobile part of the spine, responsible for the movements and rotations of the head. But if we compare the structure of the cervical vertebrae and, for example, the lumbar or thoracic vertebrae, it can be noted that the former have a much thinner body. But it is on this department that all the burden of maintaining the head and its movements falls. Due to such a natural "injustice", it is the cervical region that often suffers from diseases and injuries, which causes a person's neck to hurt when turning his head.

Neck pain has now become one of the most common problems. They occur in people regardless of age, occupation or physical condition. More and more, patients turn to doctors with such complaints: "I can't turn my head", "My neck hurts a lot", "My neck is cramped". There are many reasons for such symptoms, it is important to correctly diagnose. Otherwise, it will be impossible to quickly get rid of the pain.

Characteristics of pain

This condition, when it hurts to turn your head, is familiar to many. This happens due to pathologies of the muscles, ligaments or spine in the cervical collar area. Moreover, the pain appears not only in the neck, but also in the shoulders, even in the hands, gives the back of the head. Other symptoms may appear: numbness, tingling, weakness, darkening of the eyes. In this case, the head cannot be turned to the side, a person must turn over with his whole body.

In most cases, neck stiffness and pain last from a few days to a week. They can vary in character: shoot, break, burn, encircle, stab. Sometimes the pain is different and in intensity: from weak, aching - to sharp, very strong. If it is not associated with any pathology, but appeared due to overwork or stress, it will pass even without serious treatment, only by reducing the load and anesthetic ointments.

A visit to the doctor is necessary if the neck does not stop hurting after a week, as well as when other symptoms appear. This may include numbness, tingling or crawling sensation, headache, nausea, weakness or fever. It is also important to see a doctor if the neck suddenly hurts for no apparent reason and the stiffness builds up quickly.


Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors. Most often they are associated with muscle tension or their increased tone. This occurs after physical exertion, for example, when playing sports. When a person often tilts or turns his head, lifts weights or performs large-amplitude movements with his hands, lactic acid is formed in the muscles and microtrauma of the fibers occurs. The damage can be localized in the neck or collar area. This results in pain that gets worse each time you turn your head.

Athletes are not the only ones to suffer from this problem. Often reduces the neck of loaders, builders, workers, seamstresses, drivers - that is, those whose professional activities are associated with constant overstrain of the hands and collar area.

Static loads are no less dangerous for the neck. Often, upon waking up, a person notices that he has rested his neck. This happens due to an uncomfortable position during sleep or the wrong choice of bedding. For example, sleeping on a mattress that is too soft, a large or hard pillow, a sagging sofa can lead to neck pain. A similar situation develops when a person spends a long time in an uncomfortable position, for example, sitting with his head tilted at a computer or talking on the phone, pressing it to his ear with his shoulder.

In addition to muscle tension, injuries are often the cause of pain. In most people, the neck muscles are rather weak, and the cervical spine has a more fragile structure than the others. Therefore, any sudden movement, a blow to the neck or even a fall of a person can lead to injuries to this area.

Suffer from mainly muscle and ligament injuries. Most often, the muscle that runs along the back of the neck and which is responsible for the movement of the scapula is subject to sprains. A common phenomenon is also a mixture of vertebrae or a fracture. The consequences of all injuries are severe pain that makes head movement impossible.

Muscle pathologies that cause stiffness in the neck and pain when turning or tilting also include myositis. It is an inflammation of the muscles due to hypothermia, infectious disease, injury or overwork. Inflammation is accompanied by edema, which significantly limits the mobility of the head. The cause of this condition can be even severe stress, which leads to muscle spasms and restricts any movement of the head.

What diseases appear

There are more serious reasons for this problem. If the pain does not go away after a few days, any movement causes pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers, headache, it is very important to consult a doctor. After all, most likely, such pains are a symptom of a pathology that requires special treatment.

doctor visit for neck pain

In case of severe pain that limits the mobility of the neck, it is better to seek the advice of a specialist.

Most often they occur in diseases of the cervical spine. Each person has different symptoms, but pain when turning the head almost always occurs. There are some of the most common pathologies.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is now more and more common. This is due to a sedentary lifestyle, malnutrition, increased stress on the neck muscles when sitting at the computer. Usually, with osteochondrosis, the neck hurts on the right or left side, since the cause is the violation of the nerve roots.

A herniated disc or disc protrusion in the cervical region is common. After all, the muscles that keep the vertebrae in the correct position are weak here, and the load on the neck is still great. As a result, the discs suffer, which, due to poor nutrition, become very fragile. As a result, the vertebrae converge and impinge on the nerve roots. This, along with muscle spasms, leads to pain when turning the head.

Osteoarthritis of the intervertebral joints is less common. Older people are mainly susceptible to it, since it is a degenerative-dystrophic process. Often, osteoarthritis is accompanied by a narrowing of the spinal canal and the appearance of bony growths near the vertebrae. For this reason, some patients cannot move their head at all.

Scoliosis and curvature are not considered serious conditions by many, but they can also cause pain and stiffness. Due to the incorrect position of the spine, the increased load falls on one side of the neck. As a result, the pain appears only on the right or left side.

The cause of this condition can also be other diseases: vascular disorders, neurological pathologies or infections. Of these, meningitis is the most dangerous. This is a rather rare, but dangerous disease. In addition to stiffness in the neck, with meningitis a person has a headache, nausea, weakness, and a temperature may rise. One of these diseases is meningococcal disease.

Pain and stiffness in the neck-collar area may be a symptom of scalene muscle syndrome, cervical sciatica, humeroscapular periarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, vertebral artery insufficiency, neuralgia of theoccipital nerve. Although the manifestations of these diseases can be similar, their treatment should be different, so it is very important to diagnose them correctly.

pain in children

This condition, when it is impossible to move the head, occurs even in children. Some babies are born with a pathology like torticollis. In this case, the child's head takes a forced position - tilted to one side. This is due to a spasm of the neck muscles.

Pain when turning the head can also occur in older children. This is most often caused by infectious diseases. It can be lymphadenitis, mumps, purulent tonsillitis, meningitis. It is very important to recognize the disease in time and start treatment.


In many cases, when overwork, hypothermia or stress become the cause of such an unhealthy condition, you can relieve the pain yourself. The main thing at the same time is not to limit yourself to taking painkillers. An integrated approach is necessary: it is necessary to limit the mobility of the head with the help of braces, massage is useful, special gymnastics, rubbing ointments or applying compresses.

But if such pains are a symptom of a disease, only a doctor can determine how to treat them correctly. After all, it is very important that not only symptomatic therapy is carried out, but the treatment of the underlying pathology.

Various therapeutic measures depend on the cause of the pain, but some apply in all cases:

  • Drugs to relieve pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, to improve blood circulation and metabolic processes.
  • A rest of several days, sometimes an immobilization of the neck with a shants collar or a more rigid orthosis is indicated, which will make it possible to accelerate the healing of the damaged tissues.
  • Cold or hot compresses.
  • Massage, rubbing ointments.
  • Physiotherapy.
manual therapy for neck pain

The treatment of this pathology should be complex, necessarily including massage or manual therapy.

medical therapy

Many people, when they do not know what to do to get rid of pain when turning their heads, start drinking painkillers. Sometimes it helps if such a condition is not associated with a serious illness. But it should be remembered that any painkiller or NSAID should not be taken without consulting a doctor for more than 3-5 days. Therefore, if the pain does not go away during this period, it is better to consult a specialist.

In addition, in many cases, pain relief alone will not help restore neck mobility, as it is still necessary to relieve muscle spasms, normalize blood circulation and relieve inflammation.

Therefore, in such cases, a complex of drugs is usually prescribed:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Muscle relaxants to relieve muscle spasms.
  • Chondroprotectors help restore cartilage tissue, improve mobility of the spine.
  • Various ointments relieve pain, inflammation, warm up and relax.
  • Multivitamins compensate for the lack of vitamins.

Physiotherapy treatment

In addition to medication, the treatment of neck pain necessarily includes other methods. Most often, a massage is prescribed, which helps to relax the muscles, improves the mobility of the neck. Manual therapy is effective, but in this service it must be applied with great caution. In addition, spinal traction is sometimes indicated. This method helps well with the violation of nerve fibers, osteochondrosis, intervertebral hernia.

For any pathology, physiotherapy is effective. It can be electrophoresis, UHF, laser, magnetotherapy, paraffin applications, acupuncture. Useful mud applications, therapeutic baths. These procedures normalize muscle tone, improve blood circulation and metabolic processes, and have a general strengthening effect.

And therapeutic exercises will help consolidate the result of treatment and restore range of motion. Start performing special exercises after decreasing pain and inflammation. They strengthen muscles, increase mobility and prevent muscle spasms. All exercises are performed slowly, without sudden movements, avoiding the appearance of pain.

Folk remedies

Such a pathology is treated at home. Therefore, many patients, in addition to the methods prescribed by the doctor, use various folk recipes.

  • A heated bag of salt warms the neck well with muscle spasms.
  • Pour boiling water over a leaf of horseradish, after cooling, tie around the neck and wrap with a scarf. You can leave the compress overnight if there is no severe burning sensation.
  • In the same way, a compress is made from the leaves of burdock or cabbage.
  • Mix 50 g of honey and 50 g of vodka, add 2 tablespoons of fine salt and a little grated horseradish. When the mass becomes homogeneous, use it to rub the neck.
  • An effective heating compress consists of 300 ml of alcohol, 10 ml of camphor and a vial of iodine.
  • Mix the yolk, camphor alcohol, vodka and mustard powder. Rub your neck before bed.
  • If you mix crushed ginger root, a little garlic and butter, this ointment will help you get rid of cramps quickly.
  • Well relaxes and soothes a drink of aloe juice and black radish, mixed with honey.

By itself, the neck will not stop hurting, its mobility will not be restored. Therefore, it is better to consult a doctor immediately and start the appropriate treatment than to constantly suffer from the inability to turn your head.