Duration Of Current Neck Stiffness

What Causes Neck Stiffness?

Neck stiffness can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'critical'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose neck stiffness, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "neck stiffness" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Meningitis
  • Cervical Arthritis
  • Encephalitis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
slight neck pain
long term neck pain
very dry eyes
occasional unexplained fevers
pain between shoulder blades
severe neck pain
regular morning stiffness
low lymphocyte count
stiff neck
frequent morning stiffness
morning stiffness lasting hours
severe fatigue after slight exertion
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of neck stiffness:
Cause Probability Status
Rheumatoid Arthritis 97% Confirm
Meningitis 17% Unlikely
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 16% Unlikely
Encephalitis 2% Ruled out
Ankylosing Spondylitis 0% Ruled out
A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage 0% Ruled out
Cervical Arthritis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate neck pain/stiffness, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
If you have a stiff neck, how long has it been this way?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know / not applicable
→ Over 1 year
→ 1 to 12 months
→ 1 week to 1 month
→ Less than 1 week
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either long term neck stiffness or recent onset neck stiffness, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
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