Neck pain

Neck pain is pain that occurs anywhere from the bottom of the head to the top of the shoulders and may spread to the upper back or upper arms. It may feel like a "kink," stiffness, or severe pain, and may result in limited neck movement.

Most neck pain is caused by repeated or prolonged movements to the neck's muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, or joints. For example, painting a ceiling, sleeping with the neck twisted, slouching, or staying in one position for long periods of time can all cause neck pain. Less frequently, neck pain is caused by injury, such as whiplash received in a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a ladder; or by another condition, such as infection in the neck area, rheumatoid arthritis, or a herniated disc.

Neck pain is usually treated with pain medications, exercise, and changing activities and body mechanics. Most cases of neck pain caused by movement go away within 4 to 6 weeks. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Last Updated: August 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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