Neck pain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Pain in the neck” redirects here. For the idiomatic expression, see wikt:pain in the neck.

Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population having neck pain at some point in their lives.[1]

Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can Doctor be caused by numerous other spinal problems. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back.

The head is supported by the lower neck and upper back, and it is these areas that commonly cause neck pain. The top three joints in the neck allow for most movement of the neck and head. The lower joints in the neck and those of the upper back create a supportive structure for the head to sit on. If this support system is affected adversely, then the muscles in the area will tighten, leading to neck pain.

Neck pain affects about 5% of the global population as of 2010.[2]


1 Differential diagnosis

2 Treatment

2.1 Conservative treatment

2.2 Medication

2.3 Surgery

3 Epidemiology

4 Prognosis

5 References

Differential diagnosis

Neck pain may come from any of the structures in the neck including: vascular, nerve, airway, digestive, and musculature / skeletal or be referred from other areas of the body.[3]

Major and severe causes of neck pain (roughly in order of severity) include:

Carotid artery Doctor dissection

Referred pain from acute coronary syndrome

Head and neck cancer

Infections: retropharyngeal abscess, epiglottitis, etc.[4]

Spinal disc herniation – protruding or bulging discs, or if severe prolapse.

Spondylosis – degenerative arthritis and osteophytes

Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal

The more common and lesser neck pain causes include:

Stress – physical and emotional stresses

Prolonged postures – many people fall asleep on sofas and chairs and wake up with sore necks.

Minor injuries and falls – car accidents, sporting events and day to day injuries that are really minor.

Referred pain – mostly from upper back problems

Over-use – muscular strain is one of the most common causes


Herniated disc[5]

Pinched nerve

Although the causes are numerous, most are easily rectified by either professional help or using self help advice and techniques.

More causes include poor sleeping posture, torticollis, head injury, rheumatoid arthritis, Carotidynia, congenital cervical rib, mononucleosis, rubella, certain cancers, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical spine fracture, esophageal trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, lymphadenitis, thyroid trauma, and tracheal trauma.


Treatment of neck pain depends on the cause. For the vast majority of people, neck pain can be treated conservatively. Recommendations which help alleviate symptoms include applying heat or cold.[6] Other common treatments could include medication, body mechanics training, ergonomic reform, and physical therapy.

Conservative treatment

Exercise plus joint mobilization and/or joint manipulation (spinal adjustment) has been found to be beneficial in both acute and chronic mechanical neck disorders.[7] Both cervical manipulation and cervical mobilisation produce similar immediate-, and short-term changes; no long-term data are available.[8] Thoracic manipulation may also improve pain and function.[8][9] Low level laser therapy has been shown to reduce pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.[10]


Analgesics such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs are recommended for pain.[11]Muscle relaxants are often prescribed and are known to be effective. However, one study showed that one muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine was not effective for treatment of acute cervical strain (as opposed to neck pain from other etiologies or chronic neck pain).[12] Over the counter topical creams and patches may be effective for some patients.


Surgery is usually not indicated for mechanical causes of neck pain. If neck pain is the result of instability, cancer, or other disease process surgery may be necessary. Surgery is usually not indicated for “pinched nerves” or herniated discs unless there is spinal cord compression or pain and disability have been protracted for many months and refractory to conservative treatment such as physical therapy.


Neck pain affects about 330 million people globally as of 2010 (4.9% of the population).[13] It is more common in women (5.7%) than men (3.9%).[13] It is less common than low back pain.[14]


About one-half of episodes resolve within one year.[1] About 10% of cases become chronic.[1]


^ a b c Binder AI (2007). “Cervical spondylosis and neck pain”. BMJ. 334 (7592): 527-31. doi:10.1136/bmj.39127.608299.80. PMC 1819511free to read. PMID 17347239.

^ March, L; Smith, EU; Hoy, DG; Cross, MJ; Sanchez-Riera, L; Blyth, F; Buchbinder, R; Vos, T; Woolf, AD (June 2014). “Burden of disability due to musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders.”. Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology. 28 (3): 353-66. PMID 25481420.

^ Amal Mattu; Deepi Goyal; Barrett, Jeffrey W.; Joshua Broder; DeAngelis, Michael; Peter Deblieux; Gus M. Garmel; Richard Harrigan; David Karras; Anita L’Italien; David Manthey (2007). Emergency medicine: avoiding the pitfalls and improving the outcomes. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Pub./BMJ Books. p. 46. ISBN 1-4051-4166-2.

^ Amal Mattu; Deepi Goyal; Barrett, Jeffrey W.; Joshua Broder; DeAngelis, Michael; Peter Deblieux; Gus M. Garmel; Richard Harrigan; David Karras; Anita L’Italien; David Manthey (2007). Emergency medicine: avoiding the pitfalls and improving the outcomes. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Pub./BMJ Books. p. 47. ISBN 1-4051-4166-2.

^ Kevin Yip (2009). A Guide to Common Orthopaedic Problems. Singapore, Mass: Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic. p. 180. ISBN 1-4051-4166-2.

^ Garra, Gregory; Singer, Adam J.; et al. (2010). “Heat or Cold Packs for Neck and Back Strain: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Efficacy”. Academic Emergency Medicine. 17 (5): 484-9. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00735.x. PMID 20536800.

^ “BestBets: Manipulation and/or exercise for neck pain?”.

^ a b Gross AR (2010). “Manipulation or mobilisation for neck pain”. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD004249. PMID 20091561.

^ Huisman PA, Speksnijder CM, de Wijer A (January 2013). “The effect of thoracic spine manipulation on pain and disability in patients with non-specific neck pain: a systematic chronic pain review.”. Disabil Rehabil. 35: 1677-1685. doi:10.3109/09638288.2012.750689. PMID 23339721.

^ Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM (2009). “Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials”. Lancet. 374 (9705): 1897-1908. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61522-1. PMID 19913903.

^ “UpToDate Inc.”.

^ Khwaja SM, Minnerop M, Singer AJ (January 2010). “Comparison of ibuprofen, cyclobenzaprine or both in patients with acute cervical strain: a randomized controlled trial”. CJEM. 12 (1): 39-44. PMID 20078917.

^ a b Vos, T (Dec 15, 2012). “Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.”. Lancet. 380 (9859): 2163-96. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61729-2. PMID 23245607.

^ Deen, Hanifa; Bartleson, J. D. (2009). Spine disorders medical and surgical management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-521-88941-3.




Pain and nociception

By region/system




Odynophagia (swallowing)


Respiratory system

Sore throat



Arthralgia (joint)

Bone pain

Myalgia (muscle)

Muscle soreness: Acute / Delayed onset


Congenital insensitivity to pain


Type I

II congenital sensory neuropathy

III familial dysautonomia

IV congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis

V congenital insensitivity to pain with partial anhidrosis


Pain asymbolia

Pain disorder

Paroxysmal extreme pain disorder


Chronic pain




Phantom pain

Referred pain


Pelvic pain




Cold pressor test


Grimace scale (animals)

Hot plate test

Tail flick test

Related concepts

Anterolateral system

Pain management



Pain scale

Pain threshold

Pain tolerance

Posteromarginal nucleus

Substance P



Philosophy of Chiropractic pain

Cancer pain

Drug-seeking behavior




Spinal disease (M40-M54, 720-724, 737)


Spinal curvature





Scheuermann’s disease





Ankylosing spondylitis




Pott disease

non inflammatory





Spinal stenosis

Facet syndrome

Back pain

Neck pain

Upper back pain

Low back pain




Intervertebral disc disorder

Schmorl’s nodes

Degenerative disc disease

Spinal disc herniation

Facet joint arthrosis

Retrieved from “”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s