Stiff neck and neck pain, signs of meningitis

Neck pain. Although neck pain can have multiple causes, the most common being the wrong position and muscle strains, there are situations when it can be a sign of meningitis.

Meningitis occurs when the membranes or meninges around the spinal cord and brain become inflamed.

Four types of meningitis are possible:

Bacterial: the most severe life-threatening form of meningitis. This type can be fatal if not treated immediately with antibiotics to prevent the spread of the infection and additional complications.
Viral: the most common cause of a meningitis infection. Usually, this type is not as severe as bacterial meningitis and often disappears without the need for treatment.
Fungus: this unusual type Meningitis is caused by a fungus that enters the spinal cord from the bloodstream.
Parasitic: This much less common form of meningitis is caused by parasites.

You do not always need treatment for non-bacterial meningitis. The infection can go away on its own. Meningitis can be confused with the flu, dehydration or gastroenteritis. It can also be overlooked, as the symptoms may be mild or not always apparent.

Get immediate medical attention

Seek emergency medical attention if you notice symptoms of meningitis. You should also contact your doctor if you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with meningitis.

Alarm signs:

  • neck pain and severe stiff neck, with no apparent cause,
  • constant and annoying headache,
  • disorientation,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • high fever (38 ° C and higher), in particular, associated with the above symptoms

Early treatment, within 2 to 3 days (less than a day is recommended), can help prevent long-term or severe complications. Bacterial meningitis can quickly become fatal or cause brain damage in a few days without antibiotics.

Meningitis test

Before going to the doctor you can also check at home if you may have meningitis. One of the signs is that you can’t bring your chin to your chest due to severe neck pain and a stiff neck.

There are two specific tests:

Brudzinski test:

Lie on your back.
Gently lift your neck so that your head moves forward. For best results, ask someone to help you.
Remember that if your hips and knees bend involuntarily while you raise your head. This is a positive sign Brudzinski, which means that you may have meningitis.

Kernig test:

Lie on your back.
Raise your leg up from your hip and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle.
Gently straighten your leg from the knees up.
Remember that if your back or thigh starts to hurt, it is a positive Kernig sign, which means you may have meningitis.

Other causes of neck pain

The neck is flexible and supports the weight of the head, so it can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict movement. Causes of neck pain include:

  • Muscle stretches. Overuse, such as spending too many hours at your computer or smartphone, often triggers muscle strains. Even minor activities, such as reading in bed or gnashing of teeth, can strain your neck muscles.
  • Worn joints. Like other joints in the body, the neck joints tend to wear out with age. Osteoarthritis causes damage to the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae). The body then forms bone spurs that affect the movement of the joints and cause pain.
  • Nerve compression. Herniated discs or bony spurs in the vertebrae of the neck can press on the nerves that branch from the spinal cord.
  • Injuries. They occur when the head is suddenly moved back and then forward, tensing the soft tissues of the neck.
  • It hurts. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer, can cause sore throats.

Source: Doctorul Zilei by

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