Neck pain is a common problem that severely impacts the quality of your life. It can limit your ability to be active. It can cause you to miss work. Many different causes may lead to pain in yourneck.
Like chronic low back pain, neck pain is considered chronic if it persists for at least three months. Chronic neck pain may range from mild to severe, and may be rooted in a physical cause like muscle strain, or a medical cause such as arthritis or fracture. Find out more.
Causes & Triggers
In many cases, neck pain is muscle-related. Muscle tension, cramps and strains can all cause discomfort. Neck pain can also be caused by compression of the spinal nerves. Herniated discs or bone growths caused by osteoarthritis can press against the nerves. Fractures of the spine can reduce the amount of space around them. This type of pain may not go away, even after weeks.
- Everyday activities such as:
- Bending over a desk or table
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- Using a computer
- Watching TV
- Fragility fracture due to osteoporosis
- Muscle strain or tension
- Spinal infection, disorder or disease
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of neck pain can vary depending on the cause of your pain and the severity of your injury. You may have muscle spasms. You may have headaches. You may have trouble bending and rotating your neck. These symptoms may get worse with movement. Problems in the neck can also cause pain in your shoulders. It can cause tingling or weakness in your arm, and numbness in your arm or hand.
- Limited range of motion
- Tingling, numbness or weakness in hands or arm
Tips & Treatment
Some types of neck pain are treated with over-the-counter medications and ointments. Your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, cortisone injections or physical therapy. You may benefit from a cervical collar. This stabilizes your neck. If these methods are not effective, you may benefit from surgery to correct a problem in your cervical spine.
- Contrary to what some may think, most physicians suggest avoiding bed rest in favor of staying as active as possible.
- Treatment may involve taking over-the-counter pain relievers, icing the affected area, stretching gently, massaging the area, and making ergonomic adjustments in the home or office.
- Depending on severity, surgery may be required to restore full function.