One of the most common causes of a stiff neck are trigger points in the levator scapulae muscle. This muscle runs up the side of the neck from the top of the shoulder blade. It helps to shrug the shoulders and move and stabilize the neck. When trigger points form in this muscle they will produce pain and stiffness in the neck. Deep tissue trigger point massage applied to these knots is an effective treatment method.
If this looks familiar to you, then you probably have trigger points. The muscles in your back and neck become strained and overloaded and the muscles in the front become shortened and contracted. When this happens trigger points can develop. These points will cause pain, refered pain, stiffness and weakness. Trigger points in the neck muscles can refer pain into the head and cause headaches.
The trapezius muscle or traps is a large diamond shaped muscle located in your back and neck. It is responsible for both neck and shoulder movements as well as stabilizing these areas. Because of this the traps are a very common muscle to become overloaded and strained. When this happens trigger points form in the muscle and cause pain, refered pain, stiffness, and weakness. The upper portion of the muscle is the most common area in the body to develop trigger points. These points refer pain up the neck, behind the ear, and into the temple causing headaches. Trigger points in the lower parts of the muscle will cause shoulder and upper back pain. Trigger points need direct attention to be treated. Otherwise they can out live you! –