The first sign of meningitis might be a tough/rigid neck. Meningitis is a type of infection that attacks the human brain. Then, it moves smoothly to the spinal cord. That is why a person may feel a rigid neck as well as the back. The membranes surrounding the spinal cord start decreasing the opportunity to move. The movements become limited because of the swelling sensation. Add a certain level of discomfort and reasonable ache to the limitations in the movement to get a full picture.