How Long Does Stiff Neck on One Side Last?

A stiff neck, also known as a crick in the neck, is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort on one or both sides of the neck. When it only affects one side, it is known as a unilateral stiff neck. But how long does stiff neck on one side usually last? Here’s what you need to know.

Causes

A stiff neck often occurs due to muscle tightness or spasms in the neck area. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Sleeping in an awkward position that strains the neck muscles
  • Having poor posture during daily activities
  • Lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive motions that overwork the neck
  • Stress and anxiety causing increased muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Injuries such as whiplash
  • Arthritis or other age-related changes in the spinal column

In some cases, an underlying condition like meningitis or bone spurs can also cause neck pain and stiffness.

Duration

The duration of one-sided neck stiffness can vary greatly depending on the cause. Mild cases caused by sleeping in a weird position or having bad posture may last only a day or two. Applying heat, gently stretching and massaging the affected side can help relieve muscle tightness.

With repetitive stress injuries, the neck may hurt for a week or longer as the irritated muscles and tendons heal. Problems like arthritis and bone spurs can lead to chronic or recurring stiff neck. The pain and stiffness may persist for many weeks or months unless properly treated.

Severe neck injuries from accidents can potentially cause longer-lasting pain and loss of range of motion. Seeking prompt medical attention is important for a proper diagnosis and recovery.

A doctor can pinpoint the cause through a physical exam and imaging tests. They may prescribe muscle relaxants, pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy or stretches and exercises to help manage stubborn neck stiffness. In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct structural problems in the cervical spine.

Prevention

Practicing good posture, stretching the neck muscles, staying hydrated and limiting repetitive motions can help reduce the chances of developing a stiff neck. Make sure to properly warm up before physical activities and don’t overdo it. Use ergonomically designed chairs and workstations. Getting sufficient rest and managing stress are also important in keeping the neck muscles relaxed and pain-free. With proper care, you can avoid and relieve one-sided neck stiffness.