Pain in the Neck
Pain in the neck is a common medical condition that comes from numerous illnesses and injuries from accidents. Fortunately, most of the time it can be cured immediately.
In some severe cases such as a car crash or contact sports, neck pain can lead to a serious injury and will very much need a doctor’s consultation.
If you feel any numbness or any shooting pain in your shoulder, arms and hands along with the pain in the neck, it is vital that you seek a doctor’s help.
- Tingling in the arms
- Muscle pain
- Stiff neck
- Throat pain or sore throat
- Tenderness or loss of strength in the arms
- Inability to move the head
- Facial pain
- Shoulder pain
Causes that may need serious medical care:
- Heart attack can cause pain in the neck, and is a very serious condition. Symptoms could be shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating and arm or jaw pain. Call an ambulance immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Meningitis is a disease caused by viral, bacterial or fungal infection in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms are stiff neck, headache and fever. This is a fatal condition and requires immediate attention.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis causes swelling of joints and bone spurs that can take place in the neck.
- Osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones that usually occurs in the hands or knees, sometimes happens in the neck.
- Fibromyalgia is muscle pain over the entire body but mostly occurs in the neck and shoulder region.
- Spondylosis, also known as neck osteoarthritis, is the degeneration of cervical disks that usually happens when we age.
- Herniated cervical disk or ruptured or slipped disk may add pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
- Spinal Stenosis can be caused by long-term inflammation of the nerve roots or spinal cord due to arthritis.
Other (rare) conditions that may cause pain in the neck:
- Congenital abnormalities
- Cancer of the spine
For all of these cases, it is very important to consult a doctor or a specialist that can help in treating these conditions. Always seek medical help when you experience any of these illnesses.
Stretching and neck exercises are effective ways in preventing neck pain. Athletes are bound to stretch their muscles and veins before they engage in any sport. Using neck pillows while resting is also a great way to prevent pain in the neck especially when staying in one position, not only at home but also when traveling. Drive carefully to prevent any motor vehicle accidents. Eat healthy food like fruits, vegetables and protein that will help mend any damaged tissues and nerves. And lastly, stay in a stress-free environment to sustain good emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Treatments will range from spinal adjustment to taking anti-inflammatory drugs. They may include rest, hot or cold compress, chiropractic treatment such as traction (spine adjustment) for pressure relief on the spine, soft-collar traction, topical pain-relief patches, topical painkilling cream, injection of cortisone (steroid drug) or painkillers, muscle relaxants, and surgery for severe cases.
Acupuncture is an alternative treatment especially for chronic pain.
Self-care treatments include hot tub method, neck exercises, stretching such as yoga, and using neck pillows and hot pads.
Who can treat neck pain?
There are so many doctors and specialists that are experts in this department. The list includes family medicine doctors, internists, orthopedists, rheumatologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, ENT specialists, emergency physicians, physiatrists, and chiropractors. Also qualified to treat are physical therapists, massage therapists and acupuncturists.
1. “Neck Pain,” Mayo Clinic; last accessed July 17, 2020
2. Neck Pain: Possible Causes and How to Treat It, Healthline; last accessed July 17, 2020
3. Neck Pain (Cervical Pain),
Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR/Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD; Healthline