Neck pain when turning head

Neck pain when turning head

First, the neck is the most mobile part of the spine and is responsible for the movement and rotation of the head. But if we compare the structures of the cervical spine, such as the lumbar or thoracic spine, we can notice that the body of the former is much thinner. However, all the burden of maintaining the head and its movements falls on this department. It is precisely because of this inherent "injustice" that diseases and injuries in the cervical spine often cause neck pain when a person turns his head.

Neck pain is now one of the most common problems. They happen to people regardless of age, occupation or physical health. More and more patients complain to doctors: "I can't turn my head", "My neck hurts", "My neck cramps". There are many reasons for this symptom, and proper diagnosis is important. Otherwise, you won't be able to get rid of the soreness quickly.

characteristics of pain

Many people are familiar with this condition, the pain when you turn your head. This is due to lesions in the muscles, ligaments or spine in the neck region. In addition, the pain is not only in the neck, but also in the shoulders, and even in the hands, but also in the back of the head. Other symptoms may occur: numbness, tingling, weakness, darkening of the eyes. In this case, the head cannot be turned to one side, one must turn all over.

In most cases, neck stiffness and pain last from a few days to a week. They have different personalities: shoot, destroy, burn, surround, stab. Sometimes the pain is different and of varying intensity: from weak and painful to severe, very intense. If it is not related to any pathology, but appears due to overwork or stress, even without serious treatment, only with load-relieving and numbing creams.

If the pain in the neck does not stop within a week and other symptoms develop, you must see your doctor. This may include numbness, a tingling or crawling feeling, headache, nausea, weakness or fever. It is also important to seek medical attention if there is sudden, unprovoked pain in the neck and the stiffness increases rapidly.


Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors. Mostly, they are related to muscle strain or increased muscle tone. This occurs after physical exertion, such as when exercising. When a person frequently tilts or turns their head, lifts weights, or performs high-amplitude movements with their hands, lactic acid forms in the muscles and causes minimal trauma to the fibers. The injury may be in the neck or collar area. This can cause the pain to worsen every time you turn your head.

Athletes aren't the only ones suffering from this problem. Often necks are reduced for loaders, builders, workers, tailors, drivers — that is, those whose occupational activities are associated with frequent overwork in the hand and collar area.

Static loads are equally harmful to the neck. Often, upon waking up, a person will notice that he has rested his neck. This happens because of uncomfortable sleeping positions or the wrong choice of bedding. For example, sleeping on a feather bed that is too soft, pillows that are too large or too firm, or a sagging sofa can all cause collar soreness. A similar situation occurs when a person is in an uncomfortable position for a prolonged period of time, such as sitting with his head tilted in front of a computer or pressing his shoulder against his ear while on the phone.

In addition to muscle strains, injuries are often the cause of pain. In most people, the muscles in the neck are rather weak, and the structure of the cervical spine is more fragile than in others. Because of this, any sudden movements, blows to the neck, or even a person's fall can cause injury to this area.

The main injuries are the muscles and ligaments. Most of the time, the muscles that run along the back of the neck and are responsible for the movement of the shoulder blades are sprained. A common condition is also a mixture of vertebrae or fractures. The consequence of all injuries is severe pain that makes any head movement impossible.

Muscle lesions that cause neck stiffness and pain when turning or tilting also include myositis. This is muscle inflammation that occurs due to hypothermia, infectious disease, injury, or overwork. Inflammation is accompanied by edema, so the mobility of the head is severely limited. The cause of this condition can even be severe stress, which can cause muscle spasms and restrict any movement of the head.

what disease

There are more serious reasons for this problem. If the pain does not go away after a few days, any movement can cause finger pain, numbness or tingling, headache, it is very important to see a doctor. After all, this pain is most likely a pathological symptom that requires special treatment.

Doctor examining neck pain

Since severe pain restricts neck mobility, it is best to seek professional advice.

Most often, they occur in cervical spine disorders. Everyone has different symptoms, but pain when turning the head is almost always present. There are some of the most common pathologies.

Cervical osteochondrosis is now becoming more common. This is due to a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and increased stress on the neck muscles when sitting in front of a computer. Usually, with osteochondrosis, the neck will be painful on the right or left side because its cause is a damaged nerve root.

Herniated discs, or herniated discs, in the neck area are common. After all, the muscles that hold the vertebrae in the correct position are weak here, and the load on the neck is always high. As a result, the disk is affected, and due to improper nutrition, the disk can become very fragile. As a result, the vertebrae converge and invade the nerve roots. This, like a muscle spasm, can cause pain when turning the head.

Arthropathy of the intervertebral joints is less common. The elderly are most vulnerable to it because it is a degenerative malnutrition process. Arthropathy is often accompanied by narrowing of the spinal canal and bone growth near the vertebrae. Because of this, some patients cannot move their heads at all.

Scoliosis and stooping are not considered serious conditions by many people, 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 is only present on the right or left side.

The cause of this condition may also be other diseases: vascular disease, neuropathology or infection. Of these, meningitis is the most dangerous. It's a fairly rare disease, but it's dangerous. In addition to a stiff neck, people with meningitis can also experience headaches, nausea, weakness, and increased body temperature. One such disease is meningococcal disease.

Pain and stiffness in the cervical collar area may be a symptom of a syndrome such as scalene, sciatica, peri-scapularitis, ankylosing spondylitis, vertebral insufficiency, and occipital neuralgia. Although the presentation of these diseases may be similar, they should be treated differently, so correct diagnosis is important.

pain in children

This happens even in children when the head cannot be moved. Some babies are born with conditions such as torticollis. In this case, the child's head assumes a forced position - tilted to one side. This is due to spasms in the neck muscles.

Pain when turning the head can also occur in older children. This is usually caused by an infectious disease. May be lymphadenitis, mumps, suppurative tonsillitis, meningitis. It is important to detect the disease in time and start treatment.


In many cases, when overwork, hypothermia, or stress is the cause of this unhealthy condition, you can relieve the pain yourself. At the same time the main thing is not limited to taking painkillers. A comprehensive approach is needed: it is necessary to limit the mobility of the head with the help of orthopedic devices, massage is useful, special gymnastics, rubbing ointments or applying compressions.

But if this pain is a symptom of any disease, only a doctor can determine how to properly treat it. After all, it is very important to treat not only symptomatic but also the underlying pathology.

Various treatments depend on the cause of the pain, but some apply to any situation:

  • Medications to relieve pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, improve blood circulation and metabolic processes.
  • Taking a few days off, sometimes using a Shants collar or a stiffer orthosis to immobilize the neck, will help speed up the healing of the damaged tissue.
  • Cold or hot compresses.
  • Massage, rub ointment.
  • physiotherapy.
Manipulative therapy for neck pain

Treatment of this pathology should be complex and must include massage or manual therapy.

medical treatement

Many people start drinking painkillers when they turn their heads and don't know what to do to get rid of the pain. Sometimes this helps if the condition is not related to a serious illness. But it's worth remembering that no pain reliever or NSAID should be taken for more than 3-5 days without consulting your doctor. Therefore, if the pain does not go away during this period, it is best to consult a specialist.

Also, in many cases, pain relief alone will not help restore mobility in the neck, as muscle spasms, normalization of blood circulation, and inflammation still need to be relieved.

Therefore, in this case, more than one drug is usually prescribed:

  • NSAIDs relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Muscle relaxants relieve muscle spasms.
  • Chondroprotective agents help restore cartilage tissue and improve spinal mobility.
  • Various ointments can relieve pain, inflammation, warmth and relaxation.
  • Multivitamins can make up for vitamin deficiencies.


In addition to medication, the treatment of neck pain must include other methods. Most of the time, massage is prescribed, which helps to relax muscles and improve neck mobility. Manual therapy is effective but must be applied very carefully in this sector. In addition, spinal traction is sometimes required. This method is very helpful for nerve fiber damage, osteochondrosis, and intervertebral hernia.

Physical therapy is effective for any pathology. It can be electrophoresis, UHF, laser, magnetic therapy, paraffin application, acupuncture. Useful for mud application, therapeutic bath. These procedures normalize muscle tone, improve blood circulation and metabolic processes, and have a general strengthening effect.

Therapeutic exercises will help consolidate treatment results and restore range of motion. Special exercises begin after pain and inflammation are relieved. They strengthen muscles, increase mobility, and prevent muscle cramps. All exercises are done slowly without sudden movements to avoid pain.

folk remedies

This pathology is treated at home. Therefore, many patients use various folk remedies in addition to the methods prescribed by doctors.

  • A bag of heated salt is great for warming neck muscle cramps.
  • Pour boiling water over a piece of horseradish, and when it cools, place it around your neck and wrap it in a scarf. If there is no severe burning, you can leave the compress on overnight.
  • In a similar fashion, make a compress from the leaves of burdock or cabbage.
  • Combine 50 grams each of honey and vodka, add 2 tablespoons of fine salt and a pinch of grated horseradish. Use it to rub the neck when the bumps become even.
  • An effective heat pack is made with 300ml of alcohol, 10ml of camphor and a vial of iodine.
  • Mix egg yolks, camphor alcohol, vodka and mustard powder. Rub your neck before bed.
  • If you combine grated ginger root, a pinch of garlic, and butter, this salve will help you get rid of cramps quickly.
  • Very relaxing and soothing aloe vera juice and black radish, mixed with honey.

On its own, the neck does not stop pain, nor does its mobility return. Therefore, it is better to consult a doctor immediately and start the correct treatment, rather than constantly suffer from the pain that you can't turn your head.