Why Does My Neck Hurt?
Neck pain can include a continuum of symptoms, from minor irritation or soreness to severe pain that turns daily activities, including sleeping, into painful challenges.
Our team of orthopedic specialists will begin by diagnosing the cause of your pain, and reviewing treatment options with you to get you back to your regular activities.
Symptoms of Neck Problems
People with neck pain may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:
- Reduced range of motion and inflexibility
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic neck pain or stiffness
- Tingling or numbness in one of the arms
- Dull, irritating ache in the neck
Conditions that Cause Neck Pain
Typical causes of neck pain include mechanical problems resulting from injuries, normal wear and tear, repetitive motions or poor posture, as well as arthritic conditions and common diseases and disorders.
Mechanical Neck Problems
Typical neck problems caused by traumatic injuries, normal wear and tear, poor posture, and repetitive motions include:
Also known as “cervical radiculopathy,” a pinched nerve in the neck usually occurs when a disc places pressure on a nerve, or a nerve is otherwise irritated. Pinched nerves in the neck may cause pain or numbness that extends into the shoulder or further down the arms.
Sometimes referred to as a “bulging disc,” or “ruptured disc,” a herniated disc in the neck occurs when a cervical disc places pressure on the spinal nerves. This pressure can cause weakness, numbness, or pain in the neck, shoulder, or arms. Cervical disc herniation is one of the most common causes of neck pain, and may occur from a gradual degeneration of a cervical disc, or an acute injury.
When the neck moves suddenly beyond its normal range of motion, the tendons, ligaments, and muscles overstretch, causing whiplash. A whiplash injury most often occurs from rear-end motor vehicle collisions. This injury results in mild to severe pain in the neck and shoulders.
A strain is commonly referred to as a “pulled muscle.” Neck sprains are the result of overstretched or torn ligaments, while neck strains are the result of overstretched or torn tendons or muscles.
Often referred to as a “broken neck,” or a “cervical fracture,” neck fractures result from a fracture in one or more of the cervical vertebrae. Spinal and neck fractures should be treated immediately at the nearest emergency room.
Common Neck Diseases & Disorders
Common diseases and disorders that cause neck pain include:
Severe headaches, fever, and a stiff neck are common symptoms of viral, parasitic, fungal, and bacterial meningitis. Meningitis neck pain is caused by the swelling/infection of the meninges.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition that weakens the bones, including the vertebrae bones. In the neck, the weakened cervical vertebrae may collapse from normal wear and tear or slight injuries, resulting in compression fractures or pinched nerves.
The cause of this disorder is unknown, but symptoms include widespread muscle pain in areas such as the knees, buttocks, lower back, elbows, shoulders, and neck.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition where the discs between the vertebrae thin due to normal wear and tear, which can stiffen movements and result in pain or weakness, or numbness if a nerve is pinched.
Both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors can form lumps in or around the cervical vertebrae. Neck tumors may or may not be painful, but require prompt medical care.
Arthritic Neck Conditions
The most common arthritic conditions that cause neck pain include:
Cervical spondylosis, also known as “cervical osteoarthritis,” results from normal wear and tear, overuse, and aging. In the neck, osteoarthritis causes the protective cartilage between the cervical vertebrae to deteriorate, causing the vertebrae to rub against each other, which leads to pain, stiffness, inflexibility, and potential muscle spasms.
Often referred to as “cervical spinal stenosis,” this common spinal condition occurs when the neck’s cervical vertebrae begin to narrow. This narrowing of the cervical vertebrae may be caused by trauma, normal wear and tear, or degenerative discs. Symptoms include pinched nerves that may cause discomfort, pain, numbness weakness in the arms, and even difficulty walking.
Commonly referred to as “R.A.,” this chronic autoimmune disorder is characterized in the neck by inflammation and damage to the cartilage in the cervical vertebrae. This can lead to swelling, stiffness, bone erosion, and pain, which may be disabling.
Learn more about possible causes of neck pain.
Neck Pain Diagnosis
Our orthopedic specialists may begin by ordering specific imaging tests for your neck, including:
- CT scans
They will also review your medical history, ask about your daily activities, and perform a detailed diagnostic examination of your neck and the surrounding muscles, tendons, and joints to diagnose the cause of your pain, and determine which treatment plan will work best for you.
Depending on your diagnosis, our orthopedic specialists usually begin with conservative treatment options that don’t require surgery. Non-surgical treatment options include:
- Oral anti-inflammatory medication
- Spinal injection therapy
- Physical therapy
- Neck bracing
- Osteopathic therapy, in which a specialist manipulates your muscles and joints using stretching, gentle pressure and/or resistance to improve your structure and function
Surgical treatment options include:
- Fracture fixation
- Tumor removal
- Spinal fusion
- Cervical discectomy
- Cervical laminectomy
- Cervical laminoplasty
- Microdiscectomy / microdecompression
Schedule an Appointment to Relieve Your Neck Pain
If you’re experiencing neck pain, contact the orthopedic team at Bassett Healthcare Network by calling 607-547-3400 or 1-800-BASSETT. Our neck and spinal specialists will diagnose the cause of your pain and review treatment plans based on your preference and personal needs.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s Spine Care Institute offers noninvasive and minimally invasive neck pain treatments to relieve all types of neck pain throughout Central New York, including Cobleskill, Oneonta, Cooperstown, Herkimer, and Milford.