Skip to content

    Neck Pain

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Topic Overview

    Neck pain can occur anywhere in your neck, from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. It can spread to your upper back or arms. It may limit how much you can move your head and neck.

    Neck pain is common, especially in people older than 50.

    Most neck pain is caused by activities that strain the neck. Slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with your neck twisted are some things that can cause neck pain. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a sprain, or a spasm of the neck muscles.

    Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. A fall from a ladder or whiplash from a car accident can cause neck pain. Some less common medical problems can also lead to neck pain, such as:

    You may feel a knot, stiffness, or severe pain in your neck. The pain may spread to your shoulders, upper back, or arms. You may get a headache. You may not be able to move or turn your head and neck easily. If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, you might have pain that shoots down your arm. You may also have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm.

    If your neck pain is long-lasting (chronic), you may have trouble coping with daily life. Common side effects of chronic pain include fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

    Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may also ask about any injuries, illnesses, or activities that may be causing your neck pain.

    During the physical exam, your doctor will check how well you can move your neck. He or she will also look for tenderness or numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or hands.

    If your pain started after an injury, or if it doesn't improve after a few weeks, your doctor may want to do more tests. Imaging tests such as an X-ray, an MRI scan, or a CT scan can show the neck muscles and tissues. These tests may be done to check the neck bones, spinal discs, spinal nerve roots, and spinal cord camera.gif.

    1 | 2 | 3
    1 | 2 | 3

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    pacemaker next to xray
    Treatment options.
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.