Pain in the neck can be more than just a hassle. Neck pain can come from disorders and diseases of any structure in the neck. There are seven vertebrae that are the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck (the cervical vertebrae) that surround the spinal cord and canal. Between these vertebrae are discs and nearby pass the nerves of the neck. Within the neck, structures include the neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Disease of any of these structures can lead to neck pain, including cervical spinal stenosis, myofascial pain, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal tumor (rare), cervical foraminal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis.
Neck pain is medically referred to as cervicalgia.
Neck pain can be associated with:
Common Neck Pain Symptoms
A review of our Patient Comments indicated that people with neck pain may also have coexisting symptoms. Some patients reported suffering headaches, neck stiffness and tenderness, and shoulder aches, while others felt as if their neck muscles were bruised or having muscle spasms. Others mentioned feeling groggy and tired. Read on to learn more about neck pain symptoms in our Patient Comments.
Physical Therapy. A physical therapist can teach you correct posture, alignment and neck-strengthening exercises, and can use heat, ice, electrical stimulation and other measures to help ease your pain and prevent a recurrence.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). Electrodes placed on your skin near the painful areas deliver tiny electrical impulses that may relieve pain.
Traction. Traction uses weights, pulleys or an air bladder to gently stretch your neck. This therapy, under supervision of a medical professional and physical therapist, may provide relief of some neck pain, especially pain related to nerve root irritation.
Short-Term Immobilization. A soft collar that supports your neck may help relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in your neck. However, if used for more than three hours at a time or for more than one to two weeks, a collar might do more harm than good.