Guide to Neck Pain

Guide to Neck Pain





·         What is Neck Pain?

·         Who Suffers from Neck Pain?

·         What Causes Neck Pain

·         How to Prevent Neck Pain

·         How to Live with Neck Pain

·         Symptoms

·         How to Diagnose Neck Pain

·         How To Treat Neck Pain

·         Primary Healthcare Provider

·         Pain Clinics

·         Hospitals

·         Chiropractors

·         Acupuncture

·         Physical therapy

·         Massage therapy

·         Alternative Medicine




Specific Conditions


Significant News

·         cervical herniated disc

·         foraminal stenosis

·         cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy

·         symptomatic cervical disc degeneration

·         cervical disc degenerative disease

·         osteoarthritis

·         spondylosis

·         infections

·         Medication

·         Physical therapy

·         Manipulation

·         Acupuncture

·         Surgery

·         Exercise

·         Injections




What is Neck Pain?

·         Neck pain is the catch all term used to cover any pain in the cervical area of the body. It can be acute or chronic.

·         Acute neck pain is often associated with twisting injuries or automobile accidents, while chronic neck pain is often associated with degenerative diseases.

·         Neck pain can be caused by a variety of medical conditions:

o    cervical herniated disc

o    foraminal stenosis

o    cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy

o    symptomatic cervical disc degeneration

o    cervical disc degeneration

o    osteoarthritis

o    spondylosis

o    infections



Who Suffers From Neck Pain?

·         You Are Not Suffering Alone!

·         75% of people suffer some form of neck pain during their lifetime.

·         Americans spend billions of dollars each year on neck pain.

·         Neck pain is a common ailment among workers. Many suffer neck pain from remaining in one position for an extended period of time.

·         Whiplash, a form of neck pain, is a very common injury after an automobile accident.

·         With 75% of the population affected, neck pain could be considered a national pandemic.


Neck Pain And Your Body

The neck consists of seven vertebrae(C-1 through C-7) with discs made of cartilage between each vertebrae. In addition to the seven vertebrae, the neck is composed a a complex integration of soft tissues. Muscles, nerves, blood vessels, glands and cartilage all assist the neck in performing its primary functions of protecting the upper spinal cord as well as supplying blood and oxygen to the brain. The neck is designed to support the weight of your head and allow the flexibility to turn and twist in multiple directions.

Below are two links to relevant material about the anatomy and function of the neck:

·         Wikipedia:


Causes of Neck Pain:

Neck pain can be generated in any portion of the structure itself.

·         The vertebrae can degenerate.

·         The cartilage between the vertebrae can wear and disappear over time.

·         The muscles or tendons can be injured.

·         Infection in the glands of the neck can cause pain.

·         The major arteries and veins in the neck can be the source of neck pain if they become partially occluded.

Can Neck Pain Be Prevented?

Three quarters of the population will suffer from neck pain at one time or another, but there are a few things that can be done to prevent neck pain.

·         Do not remain in the same position for an extended period of time. Stand up and stretch. Move around from time to time at work or while enjoying a hobby at home. Adjust your computer station so that your monitor is always at eye level.

·         Exercise. Regular exercise will strengthen the core muscles that help to support your neck and head.

·         Avoid turning your neck while lifting a heavy load. Your body is already under stress and turning your neck may cause a muscle pull or strain.

·         Avoid sleeping on your stomach. This puts stress on your neck all night. Use a pillow that supports the natural curve of your cervical area.


Who Treats Neck Pain

·         Primary healthcare providers

·         Chiropractors

·         Physical and massage therapists

·         Practitioners of alternative medicine


Treatment for Neck Pain:

Acute neck pain may be treated with manipulation, over the counter pain relievers, and stretching exercises. Additionally, changing your sleeping position and adjusting your sitting posture may help as recommended above.

Chronic neck pain may require more intense treatment. After your primary healthcare provider diagnoses the underlying cause of chronic neck pain, your treatment may include prescription medication, physical therapy, surgery, manipulation, massage therapy, and other treatments.

·         Medications may include NSAIDS, opiods, muscle relaxers, Tramadol, and tricyclic antidepressants. Your healthcare provider may inject corticosteroids and numbing medication into your neck to stop the pain.

·         Chiropractic manipulation may be used in conjunction with physical therapy to restore muscle movement and strength. Traction may be applied or a soft neck brace could be prescribed for additional support.

·         Alternative treatments can include acupuncture, capsaicin cream, devil's claw, white willow bark, and massage therapy. Also, yoga and pilates may help to strengthen neck muscles and restore movement.

·         In extreme cases surgery may be required. Surgery can have several aspects. It can be aimed at providing more room between vertebrae, fuse vertebrae for stabilization, or replace cartilage. Surgery usually becomes a factor if you have one of these underlying conditions:

o   cervical herniated disc

o   foraminal stenosis

o   cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy and

o   spondylosis among others


Specific Conditions That Cause Neck Pain:

·         Muscle injury usually causes acute, temporary neck pain. It can be the result of a twist of the neck or accidental injury.

·         Arthritis can be related the general wear and tear associated with constant movement. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Spinal stenosis and spondylosis both narrow the space between vertebrae and can cause neck pain.

·         Infection strikes us all from time to time. Your primary healthcare provider will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic and your pain will soon disappear

·         Occluded blood vessels are a sign of a much more serious medical condition and could lead to a stroke and dementia.

Follow the link below to get more information about conditions that can cause neck pain:

·         Mayo Clinic


How Is Neck Pain Diagnosed?

Your primary healthcare provider may order a series of tests to diagnose the underlying cause for your back pain. These tests may include:

·         X-rays

·         Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI)

·         Computed Tomography(CT) scan and

·         Blood Tests


1.    Heller, John, MD, Types of Neck Pain,, 2001.

2.    Walker, Kamiah, A., Alternative Treatments for Neck Pain: Acupuncture, Herbal Remedies, Massage, Yoga, and Pilates,, 2009.

3.    MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health, 2011.