Neck pain can last from days to years, depending on the cause. Common causes include osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, pinched nerve, mental and physical exertion, poor posture, tumors, and other health problems. Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can strain due to poor posture, whether you are leaning on the computer or hunched over on the workbench.
Osteoarthritis is also a common cause of neck pain. Neck pain is a pain in any of the structures of the neck. These include muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), joints, and discs between bones. Acute neck pain is not in itself a warning sign.
Believe it or not, there is no common worrying cause of neck pain that is indicated by acute quality. In fact, strangely enough, acute pains are a bit reassuring, despite how they feel. In isolation, without any other obvious problems, they generally indicate that you have only a minor and temporary source of irritation to the cervical spine. Serious causes of neck pain, such as infections, tumors, and spinal cord problems, tend to crush you with shooting pain, not “stab” you.
Neck pain can be caused by arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle inflammation, strain, or trauma. In rare cases, it may be a sign of cancer or meningitis. For serious neck problems, a primary care physician and often a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, should be consulted to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Most causes of neck pain are not life-threatening and resolve with time and conservative medical treatment.
This section presents a complete list of common medical problems that can cause neck pain (and that could possibly be mistaken for a “common case of neck pain”). There is some controversy regarding risk factors for neck pain, as some studies have come to conflicting conclusions. Self-care measures for treatment, such as Jacuzzi treatment, exercises and stretches to relieve neck pain, and products to relieve neck pain, such as sleeping pillows and warm pads, can be very beneficial in relieving some forms of neck pain. But if you have neck pain that has started to worry you, this is a good place to calm down and decide whether or not you want to talk to a doctor.
Neck pain can result from a number of disorders or diseases that affect any of the tissues of the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, or muscles. Although neck pain can be quite debilitating and painful, non-surgical treatment can alleviate many symptoms. Athletes who participate in collision sports can prevent neck injuries with the right equipment, neck strengthening exercises, and the occasional use of a neck brace. Many sharp, throbbing pain in the neck are likely caused by mild neuropathy (pain from nerve irritation) that will gradually subside over several days or a few weeks in the worst case, such as healing from a bruise.
If the pain is due to muscle spasm or nerve impingement, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant or tricyclic antidepressant and, possibly, a stronger pain reliever than you were taking at home. Other auxiliary health professionals who treat neck pain include physical therapists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Reading about medical problems on the Internet can easily scare us,13 so the goal here is to identify possible causes of neck pain that aren't so scary. If neck pain involves nerve compression, you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or hand.