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
- 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.
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
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