What is neck pain?

Neck pain is any type of pain or discomfort throughout the neck region, which consists of the cervical spine, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. Most people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives, and it is usually not a cause for concern.

Neck pain can be due to minor problems, such as sleeping in an awkward position, or it can be due to more serious problems, such as arthritis or degenerative disc disease. Any of the structures in the neck can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of different conditions.  

Depending on the underlying cause, neck pain may last briefly, or it may be chronic, defined as lasting more than three months. Your neck pain may feel like a dull ache, or it may be sharp and jolting in a specific area. Although most cases of neck pain resolve themselves in a few days to a few weeks with basic self-care measures, neck pain can also persist and lead to more serious problems, such as nerve damage.

Neck pain usually originates in the neck itself, but it can also be due to problems in other parts of the body, such as the head, shoulders and chest, and radiate to the neck. Therefore, your neck pain may be accompanied by other symptoms.

Neck pain occurring with other symptoms, such as pain or numbness down your arm, difficulty breathing, or a stiff neck, may be a sign of a serious medical condition and should be evaluated as soon as possible or in an emergency medical facility. In addition, if your pain follows an injury or accident or is extreme, persistent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with neck pain?

Neck pain may occur with other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For instance, if your neck pain is due to arthritis, you may experience pain in other parts of your body. Neck pain due to a pinched nerve can lead to pain, tingling, and numbness down one or both arms. Neck pain due to poor posture and stress may occur along with fatigue and sleep problems. The range of symptoms that may occur with neck pain include:... Read more about neck painsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes neck pain?

The neck consists of the cervical spine and spinal cord, nerves, intervertebral discs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Any of these structures can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to serious conditions, such as poor posture, trauma, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis.... Read more about neck paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Williams, Robert, MD Last Annual Review Date: Dec 20, 2010 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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