Neck problems are a common source of pain, and a stiff neck and dizziness are a combination that should not be ignored, especially if the symptoms last for a time. Any strain on the neck muscle also affects the muscles in the head, which is why stiff neck is often accompanied by dizziness or headaches. The causes of these symptoms range from sleeping in the wrong position or a pillow that is too soft, to a nervous disorder, such as multiple sclerosis, or tumors. The symptoms, when presented together, may also be warning signs of a heart attack.
Blood pressure problems, poor circulation due to heart disease or blocked arteries, and a migraine can also cause these symptoms. If they are accompanied by other symptoms, such as high fever, stupor, nausea, and vomiting, then the cause may be due to mosquito-carried diseases such as the West Nile Virus. Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks, causes fever, headache, a stiff neck, and dizziness. These are serious conditions that can be fatal if untreated.
A stiff neck and dizziness when looking up or turning the head accompanied by blackouts is usually a sign that the vertebral arteries are being pinched. The vertebral arteries are the major arteries of the neck and contribute to the supply of blood to the brain. Any manipulation of the spinal or neck vertebrae may tear the arteries in this area, which in turn can lead to a stroke. Neck injuries of this kind may be caused by accidents, sports injuries, or chiropractic adjustments gone wrong.
Light-headedness and discomfort in the neck are among the warning signs of a heart attack. If they are accompanied by pressure; pain or a feeling of fullness in the chest; discomfort in the jaw, arms, and back; shortness of breath and nausea, then medical help should be sought as soon as possible. These are warning signs that may come and go or develop slowly, but the sooner action is taken, the better the chance that a potential heart attack can be avoided or, at least, not be fatal.
Many different conditions and diseases may cause neck problems and dizziness. On their own, they may be treated by a cold or hot compress and an over-the-counter pain reliever. The cause may also be a much more serious one and require more intensive treatment, however, and medical advice should be sought if the symptoms are recurring or on-going or if there is the slightest concern that the cause is more than a muscle strain.