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Overview of Cervical (Neck) Pain

Cervical spine pain, also referred to as neck pain, is nearly as common as lower back pain for many. Centered around the neck and upper back, cervical pain can cause a number of issues in the flexibility and range of motion of the neck and shoulders.

Cervical or neck pain can present as:

  • Dull aching
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Tenderness
  • Shooting pain

You may also experience:

  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain

If you experience any of the above and the pain does not resolve in a few days, make an appointment with a physician.   The physician will review your previous medical history and any injuries. The physician may also order x-rays, a CT scan, or MRI.  Once the physician has a diagnosis they will discuss your treatment options.

Additionally, if you notice a more sudden onset of weakness or loss of function in your hand(s), arm(s), or legs, or you develop issues with balance, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Conditions Causing Cervical Pain

There are many conditions that can lead to cervical pain, including:

  • Injuries: Motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall incidents.
  • Strains/sprains of the muscles of the neck and upper back.
  • Degenerative disc disease: As the body grows older, the discs between the spinal vertebrae that cushion and absorb shock begin to degrade. This can also occur around the neck, causing cervical neck pain that makes it difficult to move the neck and limit the range of motion.
  • Herniated or bulging discs: A bulging disc is where the jelly like substance within the disc has moved and creates pressure on the spinal nerves or cord. A herniated disc is caused by a rupture in the intervertebral discs that releases the inner shock-absorbing substance, producing pressure on the spinal nerves and causing pain. Herniated discs can occur anywhere on the spine, including the cervical area.
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive activities that require extension or flexion of the neck for long periods
  • Swollen neck glands: Swollen neck glands or lymph nodes can sometimes lead to cervical pain.

Treating Cervical Pain

Like many forms of back pain, cervical or neck pain can usually be treated through a variety of home remedies and non-surgical therapies. These include:

  • Heat/ice application
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture

Fortunately, most forms of cervical spine pain tend to disappear after a few days or weeks. If your neck pain persists more than a couple of weeks you should make an appointment with your physician who can determine the cause of your neck pain and provide you with treatment options.

Again, if you develop severe pain, balance issues or limb weakness or paralysis, seek immediate medical attention.