Read below about difficulty moving the neck, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your difficulty moving the neck from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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8 Potential Difficulty Moving the Neck Causes

  1. 1.Congenital Wryneck

    Torticollis is commonly known as "wry neck." In congenital muscular torticollis, a child is born with a neck that tilts toward one shoulder, and the chin rotates toward the other shoulder.

    3 months of physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    neck bump, swollen neck, head tilting to one side with chin rotated to opposite direction, difficulty moving the neck, hard neck lump
    Symptoms that always occur with congenital wryneck:
    head tilting to one side with chin rotated to opposite direction, difficulty moving the neck
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Neck Sprain

    The neck is made up of 7 bones held together by muscles and ligaments. Any stretch of these muscles or ligaments causes a sprain, which will cause pain and affect your ability to move the neck.

    Most neck sprains get better within a few weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, pain in the back of the neck, shoulder pain, difficulty moving the neck, neck pain
    Symptoms that always occur with neck sprain:
    pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that never occur with neck sprain:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  3. 3.Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic musculoskeletal syndrome caused by trigger points within muscle. Pressure on these points causes pain in the area around the point as well as in other body parts, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

    Resolution of pain is dependent on type of treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, tender muscle knot, general numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with myofascial pain syndrome:
    tender muscle knot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Whiplash

    Whiplash, a soft tissue injury to the neck, is the result of a sudden jolt to the neck. This injury most frequently occurs after a car is rear-ended.

    1 week

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, pain in the back of the neck, stiff neck, arm weakness, shoulder pain from an injury
    Symptoms that always occur with whiplash:
    neck pain from an injury, pain in the back of the neck
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Difficulty Moving the Neck Checker

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  5. 5.Wryneck

    Wryneck is a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side, while the chin is turned to the other.

    1-4 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    neck pain on one side, difficulty moving the neck, constant neck pain, pain that causes the neck to bend
    Symptoms that always occur with wryneck:
    pain that causes the neck to bend, neck pain on one side, constant neck pain
    Symptoms that never occur with wryneck:
    neck pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, arm numbness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Klippel - Feil Syndrome

    Klippel-Feil Syndrome is a bone disorder that is present at birth (congenital). In this condition, two or more vertebra (bones of the spine) are joined together in the neck. This results in three major symptoms - a short neck, a low-appearing hairline at the back of the head, and limited range of motion of the neck.

    No serious life-long effects if treated early, although activities that can injure the neck should be avoided.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    short neck, difficulty moving the neck
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Bacterial Meningitis

    Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It is a serious infection as it may affect the nervous system.

    Meningitis is a very serious disease and recovery is variable.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, nausea, being severely ill, fever
    Symptoms that always occur with bacterial meningitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  8. 8.Retropharyngeal Abscess (Adult)

    Retropharyngeal abscess is a collection of pus in the tissues in the back of the throat. It is a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

    Good prognosis if caught early

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, loss of appetite, fever, shortness of breath, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Difficulty Moving the Neck

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.About your [shoulder], do you notice any of the following?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Do you feel a painful, tight knot or band in your muscle anywhere on the body?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our difficulty moving the neck symptom checker to find out more.

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Difficulty Moving the Neck Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced difficulty moving the neck have also experienced:

    • 10% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 10% Stiff Neck
    • 6% Pain in the Back of the Neck
  • People who have experienced difficulty moving the neck were most often matched with:

    • 30% Neck Sprain
    • 7% Congenital Wryneck
    • 1% Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

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