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Chronic Neck Pain

Definition:

Neck pain that persists more than three months, and may feel like a "kink" or stiffness with pain ranging from mild to severe. Pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, or it may cause a headache.

Causes:
Many conditions may cause chronic neck pain, including:
  • Abnormalities in the bone or joints
  • Trauma
  • Poor posture
  • Degenerative diseases; age-related changes in the neck joints
  • Compression of spinal nerves and the spinal cord
  • Tumors
  • Muscle strain
  • Normal wear and tear
Symptoms:

Symptoms depend on the root cause of the neck pain. Pain may start suddenly or develop over time and may be felt in the shoulder, arm and hands as well as the neck. Some symptoms may include:

  • Neck pain that “flares” and gets worse
  • Pain that is worst in the morning and at night
  • Pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands
  • Pain occurring with certain activities or neck positions
  • Radiating arm pain plus lack of coordination in the arms and legs and shooting pains
Treatment:
  • Use of moist heat or ice and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Use of muscle relaxers or additional pain relievers such as acetaminophen
  • Corticosteroid injection may help to relieve arthritis symptoms
  • Surgery may be required in cases involving disc or structural trauma
Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population having neck pain at some point in their lives.
IRG Pain Guide