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A stiff neck without other symptoms might be caused by minor muscle strain from sleeping in an odd position or sitting in front of a computer too long.
But other signs may accompany neck stiffness, making it a more serious complaint. For instance,
meningitis is a rare infectious illness that can result in stiff neck, headache, and fever. What to Do
If your child has a stiff or sore neck but no fever or other symptoms:
apply a warm moist cloth to the neck
acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain call the doctor if symptoms persist
Seek Medical Care
If Your Child Has a Stiff Neck and:
had a recent injury
bitten by a tick within the last month a fever (or lower-than-normal temperature in babies)
fatigue, drowsiness, or loss of energy
extreme irritability (or trouble being comforted in babies)
vomiting eye sensitivity to light
a skin rash
flu-like symptoms for infants: a weak suck, high-pitched cry, or a bulging soft spot on the skull
routine immunizations on time, especially the meningococcal vaccine, which protects against meningitis. Help avoid tick bites by using
insect repellent (with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET); checking kids and pets frequently for ticks; and making 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.
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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