A stiff neck without other symptoms might be caused by minor muscle strain from sleeping in an odd position or looking down at a phone too long. If your child has a stiff neck along with a fever and a headache, it could be more serious. For instance, meningitis is a rare infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord that can cause a stiff neck, headache, and fever. What to Do If your child has a stiff or sore neck but no fever or other symptoms: put a warm moist cloth on the neck as often as needed for pain give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain call the doctor if symptoms last more than a few days Get Medical Care if Your Child Has a Stiff Neck and: had a recent injury has been bitten by a tick within the last month has a fever (or lower-than-normal temperature in babies) seems very tired or drowsy is very cranky (or is a baby and can't be comforted) has a lasting headache is vomiting has a skin rash has flu-like symptoms is an infant and has a weak suck, high-pitched cry, or a bulging soft spot on the skull Think Prevention! Get all routine immunizations on time, especially the meningococcal vaccine, which protects against bacterial meningitis. Help kids avoid tick bites: Use insect repellent (with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET). Check kids and pets often for ticks. Make sure kids wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in high-risk outdoor areas. Have children avoid activities and equipment known to be risky for neck injuries. Back to Articles Related Articles Meningitis Meningitis is treatable, but can be serious. So it's important to know the symptoms, and get medical care right away if you think that your child has the illness. Read More X-Ray Exam: Neck A neck X-ray can help diagnose many conditions, including stridor, croup, hoarseness due to swelling in or near the airways, and problems with tonsils and adenoids. Read More Infant Torticollis Babies with this condition have trouble turning their heads, due to muscle tightness. Simple stretching exercises and physical therapy can help babies get better. Read More Torticollis Torticollis is a common condition that causes a stiff neck or neck pain that makes it difficult for kids to turn their heads. Read More Burner (Stinger) Burners - also called stingers - usually happen in the neck or shoulder. They take their name from the burning or stinging sensation they cause. Find out how to treat burners - and prevent them. Read More Meningitis You may be wondering what the deal is with meningitis because you've heard frightening stuff about meningitis outbreaks in the news. Read More Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If Lyme disease is diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, most people feel better quickly. Read More Lyme Disease The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away. Read More Lyme Disease Lyme disease can be treated if it's caught early. Find out what causes it, how it's treated, and how to prevent it. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.