Can neck pain be a sign of something serious? | Physiotherapy

Neck Pain

What is neck pain?

Your neck is shaped from vertebrae that reach from the mind to the upper torso. The cervical discs absorb the impact between the bones. The bones, ligaments, and muscles in your neck support your head and permit movement. Any irregularity, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.

Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In many cases, it’s thanks to poor posture or overuse. Occasionally neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash. Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a significant condition and may be relieved during a few days.

But in some cases, neck pain can indicate a significant injury or illness and requires a doctor’s attention. If you’ve got neck pain that remains for quite every week, is severe, or is amid other symptoms, seek medical consideration immediately.

Types of neck pain

The most common sort of neck pain is axial pain, also called mechanical pain. Axial pain is concentrated in one part or region of the neck and doesn’t move or radiate. it always feels dull, achy, or throbbing, but it also can be sharp or stabbing. Symptoms can increase with certain movements or poor posture.

  • Axial neck pain: The most common sort of neck pain is axial pain, also called mechanical pain. Axial pain is concentrated in one part or region of the neck and doesn’t move or radiate. it always feels dull, achy, or throbbing, but it also can be sharp or stabbing. Symptoms can increase with certain movements or poor posture.
  • Radicular pain: Root pain affects the nerve, and nerve pain can desire a stabbing or electric shock. The pain can intensify with certain movements and postures. it’s usually experienced on just one side of the body, but it can occur on both.
  • Referred pain: When pain is experienced during a place aside from its source and isn’t caused by irritation of the nerve root, it’s called pain. it’s usually experienced as a deep, painful, cramping, and/or throbbing sensation. the world of distribution is probably going to be more diffuse or more widespread than radiating pain, but these two sorts of pain can feel similar. pain is typically felt on just one side of the body, but are often on both.
  • Myelopathic pain: When the medulla spinalis within the neck is compressed, myelopathic pain can develop. While myelopathic pain can occur at the extent of compression that causes neck pain, symptoms are often localized at a distance below the neck/compression site, like within the legs and/or feet. This separation of symptoms and causal regions can contribute to an increased risk of misdiagnosis and mismanagement.
  • Several sorts of pain can exist together: Any of those sorts of pain can occur alone or together with one or more others. for instance, it often difficult to differentiate between radicular pain and pain, and a few conditions of the spine can cause both sorts of pain.

Causes of neck pain

Neck pain or stiffness can occur for a spread of reasons.

Muscle tension and tension

This is usually thanks to activities and behaviours such as:

  • Poor posture
  • Performing at a desk for too long without changing position
  • Sleeping with the neck during a bad position
  • Shake your neck during exercise


The neck is especially susceptible to injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the neck muscles and ligaments are forced to manoeuvre outside of their normal range.

If the bones within the neck (cervical vertebrae) break, the medulla spinalis also can be damaged. Neck injury thanks to sudden head shaking is usually called whiplash.

Heart attack

Neck pain also can be a symbol of attack, but it often occurs with other symptoms of an attack, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Arm or jaw pain

If your neck hurts and you’ve got other attack symptoms, call an ambulance or attend the ER directly.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the skinny tissue that surrounds the brain and medulla spinalis. In people that have meningitis, fever, and headache with a stiff neck often occur. Meningitis is often fatal and maybe a medical emergency.

If you’ve got the signs of meningitis, seek help immediately.

Other causes

Other causes include the following:

  • Atrophic arthritis causes pain, inflammation of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur within the neck area, neck pain can occur.
  • Osteoporosis weakens the bones and may cause small fractures. This condition often occurs within the hands or knees, but it also can occur within the neck.
  • Fibromyalgia may be a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially within the neck and shoulder region.
  • As you age, your cervical discs can degenerate. this is often referred to as spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck. this will reduce the space between the vertebrae. It also adds stress to your joints.
  • When a disc stands proud, like from trauma or injury, it can add pressure on the medulla spinalis or nerve roots. this is often called a herniated cervical disc, also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc.
  • Spinal stenosis occurs when the vertebral column narrows and puts pressure on the medulla spinalis or nerve roots as they exit the vertebrae. this will flow from prolonged inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.

In rare cases, neck pain or stiffness occurs due to:

  • Congenital anomalies
  • Infections
  • Abscesses
  • Tumors
  • Spinal cancer

Symptoms of neck pain

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain that’s often worse once you keep your head in one place for long periods, like when driving or performing on a computer
  • Stiffness and muscle spasms
  • Decreased ability to manoeuvre head.
  • Headache

Neck pain treatment

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and take your complete medical record. Be ready to inform your doctor about the specifics of your symptoms. you ought to also tell them about all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements you’ve got been taking.

Even if it doesn’t seem related, you ought to also inform your doctor about any recent injuries or accidents you’ve had. Treatment for neck pain depends on the diagnosis. Additionally to an entire medical record and physical exam by your doctor, you’ll also need one or more of the subsequent studies and imaging tests to assist your doctor to determine the explanation for your neck pain:

  • Blood test
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Resonance imaging
  • Electromyography, which allows your doctor to watch the health of your muscles and therefore the nerves that control your muscles
  • Spinal puncture (lumbar puncture)

Conditional on the results, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. Treatment for neck pain may include:

  • Ice and warmth therapy
  • Exercise, stretching, and physiotherapy
  • Analgesic
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Neck collar
  • Traction
  • Antibiotics if you’ve got an infection
  • Hospital treatment if the cause may be a condition like meningitis or attack
  • Surgery, which is never necessary

Alternative therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Massage
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Prevention of neck pain

Most neck pain is linked to poor posture joint with age-related wear and tear. to assist prevent neck pain, keep your head centred on your spine. a couple of simple changes to your daily routine can help. Consider trying:

  • Take a good posture: When standing and sitting, confirm your shoulders are during a line over your hips and your ears are directly over your shoulders.
  • Take frequent breaks: If you travel long distances or work long hours ahead of your computer, get up, move around and stretch your neck and shoulders.
  • Regulate your desk, chair, and computer in order that the monitor is at eye level. The knees should be slightly less than the hips. Use the armrests of your chair.
  • Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder when speaking. Instead, use a headset or speaker.
  • If you smoke, stop it. Smoking can increase the danger of developing neck pain.
  • Avoid carrying heavy bags with shoulder straps. the load can strain your neck.
  • Sleep in a good position: Your head and neck should be in line together with your body. Use a little pillow under your neck. Attempt sleeping on your back collected with your thighs elevated on pillows, which can flatten your spinal muscles.

Diagnosis of neck pain

Your doctor will take a medical record and perform an exam. He or she is going to check for muscle tenderness, numbness, and weakness, and can also see how far you’ll move your head forward, backward, and side to side.

Imaging tests

Your doctor may order imaging tests to urge a far better idea of what’s causing your neck pain. Examples include:

  • X-rays: X-rays can reveal areas in your neck where your nerves or medulla spinalis could also be pinched by bone spurs or other degenerative changes.
  • Computerized tomography: CT scans combine X-ray images taken from many various directions to supply detailed cross-sectional views of the structures inside your neck.
  • MRI: MRI uses radio waves and a robust magnetic flux to make detailed images of bones and soft tissues, including the medulla spinalis and therefore the nerves that come from the medulla spinalis.

It is likely to possess X-ray or MRI evidence of structural difficulties in your neck without having symptoms. Imaging tests are best used as a supplement to a careful history and physical exam to work out the explanation for your pain.

Other tests

  • Electromyography (EMG): If your doctor suspects that your neck pain might be associated with a pinched nerve, they could suggest an EMG. It involves inserting fine needles through the skin into a muscle and performing tests to live the speed of nerve conduction to work out if specific nerves are working properly.
  • Blood test: Blood tests can sometimes provide evidence

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