How Long Do COVID Neck Muscle Aches Last?

Neck muscle aches are a common symptom of COVID-19. The aches are likely caused by inflammation triggered by the virus. For most people, COVID-related neck pain is mild and goes away within a few days or weeks. However, some people continue to experience neck stiffness and soreness for months after recovering from COVID.

What Causes Neck Aches With COVID?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can trigger widespread inflammation in the body that leads to muscle pain and body aches. The neck contains many small muscles that can be affected by this inflammatory response.

Additionally, poor posture from increased time sitting or lying down while ill can contribute to neck soreness. Coughing from COVID may also strain the neck muscles. People who experience more severe COVID illness are more prone to debilitating body aches that can linger longer.

How Long Do the Aches Last?

For mild COVID cases, neck muscle pain and stiffness often improve within 3 to 5 days as the virus runs its course and inflammation subsides. With more moderate cases, it may take 1 to 2 weeks for neck aches to fully resolve as the body recovers.

However, some people continue to experience neck soreness and tightness for months after initially getting sick with COVID, even after other symptoms have gone away. Ongoing neck pain from COVID is more common in those who:

  • Had severe COVID disease requiring hospitalization
  • Have existing chronic pain or musculoskeletal conditions
  • Are overweight, which puts added stress on the neck
  • Have occupations with repetitive neck motion or stationary positions
  • Failed to properly rest and recover after acute COVID illness

When Should I Seek Help for Lingering Neck Pain?

It’s reasonable to give neck muscle aches from COVID a few weeks to improve on their own as inflammation decreases. But if you still have pronounced neck soreness and stiffness for more than 3-4 weeks after your initial illness, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.

Your doctor can examine your neck, rule out other causes, and provide supportive treatment. They may recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants. Physical therapy with stretching, massage, and gentle strengthening exercises often helps relieve stubborn COVID neck aches.

Seek prompt medical attention if neck pain is severe, accompanied by numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or follows any new injury to the head or neck. Rarely, COVID complications like blood clots can cause acute neck pain. Ongoing severe neck pain may also indicate Long COVID or post-viral fatigue syndrome. With proper rest and rehab, most people fully recover from COVID-related neck issues within 6 months.