Neck Pain

neck_pain.jpgAlternative Names: Pain – neck; Neck stiffness

Neck pain may begin in any of the structures in the neck. These include muscles and nerves as well as spinal vertebrae and the cushioning disks in between. Neck pain may also come from regions near the neck, like the shoulder, jaw, head, and upper arms.

Causes  A common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension. Usually, everyday activities are to blame. Such activities include bending over a desk for hours, having poor posture while watching TV or reading, placing your computer monitor too high or too low, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or twisting and turning the neck in a jarring manner while exercising.

Traumatic accidents or falls can cause severe neck injuries like vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injury, and even paralysis.

Other causes include herniated disk, fibromyalgia (pain syndrome throughout the body), and arthritis. Meningitis, although much less common, can cause significant neck stiffness.

After examination there may be a need to perform additional tests. The following diagnostic tests may be performed: X-rays of the neck, CT scan of the neck or head, Blood tests such as a complete blood count or a thyroid test, MRI of the neck, EMG testing.

Treatment will depend on the source and severity of the pain and may include pain medications, physical therapy, exercise program, nerve blocks or surgery. Your doctor will work with you on these problems.