Neck Pain Causes & Symptoms

Neck Pain Overview Neck Pain Causes & Symptoms Neck Pain Diagnosis & Treatments

What are the Causes of Neck Pain?

Neck pain is a common problem that can result from poor posture, overuse, wear and tear or traumatic injury to the cervical spine. Most neck pain is caused by activities that strain the neck. Slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with your neck twisted. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a spasm of the neck muscles, or swelling of the neck joints. Neck pain can last a few hours, days or become the chronic problem that lasts for weeks, months or years.

Pain in the neck is a common medical condition suffered by many people. Neck pain can originate from some diseases and disorders and affect the neck, shoulders and arms/hands. The most common conditions causing neck pain are neck strain, whiplash, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerve or a herniated disc. Some common infections such as a virus or bacterial infections of the throat can lead to swollen lymph nodes and neck pain. Additionally, pain can result from rare infections, such as tuberculosis of the neck, osteomyelitis, septic discitis, and meningitis.

Risk factors for neck pain include injury from involvement in contact sports, motor-vehicle accidents, powerlifting and poor posture while sleeping or reading. Prevention of neck pain in the context of these activities should include physical therapy focused on neck strengthening exercises and often neck bracing.

What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain?

The most common neck pain is dull aching. Sometimes pain in the neck is exacerbated by the movement of the neck or turning the head. The most common associated symptoms of neck pain include tingling, numbness, sharp shooting pain, tenderness, difficulty swallowing, pulsations, and lymph node (gland) swelling.

Neck pain also can be associated with a headache, shoulder pain, facial pain, and arm/hand numbness or tingling (upper extremity paresthesias). These symptoms are often a result of spinal nerves becoming pinched in the neck. Depending on the condition, sometimes neck pain is accompanied by upper back and/or lower back pain, as is common in inflammation of the spine from ankylosing spondylitis.

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