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Neck Pain

Pain located in the neck is a common medical condition. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders and diseases and can involve any of the tissues in the neck. Examples of common conditions causing neck pain are degenerative disc disease, neck strain, neck injury such as in whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve. Neck pain can come from common infections, such as virus infection of the throat, leading to lymph node (gland) swelling and neck pain. Neck pain can also come from rare infections, such as tuberculosis of the neck, infection of the spine bones in the neck (osteomyelitis and septic discitis), and meningitis (often accompanied by neck stiffness). Neck pain can also come from conditions directly affecting the muscles of the neck, such as fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica as well as from uncomfortable positioning of the neck while sleeping with the head on a pillow. Neck pain is also referred to as cervical pain.
The neck—or cervical spine—is a coordinated network of nerves, bones, joints, and muscles directed by the brain and the spinal cord. It is designed for strength, stability, and nerve communication.
Commonly, there are a number of problems that cause pain in the neck. Additionally, irritation along the nerve pathways can cause pain into the shoulder, head, arm, and hand. Irritation of the spinal cord can cause pain into the legs and other areas below the neck.

Neck Pain Range of Symptoms
Neck pain can feel like any of the following:
• Stiff neck that makes turning the head difficult
• Sharp or stabbing pain in one spot
• Soreness or tenderness in a general area
• Pain that radiates down into the shoulders, arms, or fingers; or radiates up into the head

In some cases, other symptoms associated with the neck pain are even more problematic, such as:
• Tingling, numbness, or weakness that radiates into the shoulder, arms, or fingers
• Trouble with gripping or lifting objects
• Problems with walking, balance, or coordination
• Loss of bladder or bowel control

How neck pain is treated
A Doctor or Physiotherapist can perform a physical exam and take your complete medical history. They should ask for specifics of your symptoms.

Treatment for neck pain depends on the diagnosis. In addition to a through history and physical exam by doctor or Physiotherapis, they may also need one or more of the following imaging studies and tests to help your doctor determine the cause of your neck pain:
• blood tests
• X-rays
• CT scans
• MRI scans
• electromyography, which allows your doctor to check the health of your muscles and the nerves that control your muscles
• a lumbar puncture, or a spinal tap

Depending on the results, doctor may refer you to a specialist like Physiotherapist. Treatment for neck pain may include:
• ice and heat therapy
• exercise, stretching, and physical therapy
• pain medication
• corticosteroid injections
• muscle relaxants
• a neck collar
• traction
• antibiotics if you have an infection
• hospital treatment if a condition such as meningitis or heart attack is the cause
• surgery, which is rarely necessary

Alternative therapies include:
• acupuncture
• chiropractic
• massage
• transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Note: Make sure you’re seeing a licensed professional when using these methods.