Rarely. Nearly all neck stiffness is minor, diffuse musculoskeletal pain: several mildly irritated structures adding up to uncomfortable, reluctant movement as opposed to physically limited movement. The most common scary neck stiffness is the “nuchal rigidity” of meningitis — which makes it very difficult and uncomfortable to tilt the head forward — but that will be accompanied by other serious warning signs, of course. Like feeling gross otherwise (flu-like malaise).
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.

Jump up ^ Brantingham, James W.; Bonnefin, Debra; Perle, Stephen M.; Cassa, Tammy Kay; Globe, Gary; Pribicevic, Mario; Hicks, Marian; Korporaal, Charmaine (2012). "Manipulative Therapy for Lower Extremity Conditions: Update of a Literature Review". Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 35 (2): 127–66. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.01.001. ISSN 0161-4754. PMID 22325966.


Among people seeking back pain relief alternatives, most choose chiropractic treatment. About 22 million Americans visit chiropractors annually. Of these, 7.7 million, or 35%, are seeking relief from back pain from various causes, including accidents, sports injuries, and muscle strains. Other complaints include pain in the neck, arms, and legs, and headaches.
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