Neck pain


Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, refers to any pain or discomfort located in the area of your spine directly beneath your head, known as the cervical spine. Common causes of neck pain include poor posture, which can result from leaning over a computer or slouching over a workbench, as well as osteoarthritis.

The pain experienced can be classified into two types: axial neck pain, which is primarily confined to the neck area, and radicular neck pain, which radiates to other parts of the body such as the shoulders or arms. Neck pain can be acute, persisting for a few days up to six weeks, or chronic, lasting more than three months.

Untreated neck pain can disrupt daily life and diminish overall well-being. It is essential to seek medical attention if neck pain is accompanied by numbness, a decrease in arm or hand strength, or if the pain extends into a shoulder or down an arm. Although most neck pain conditions are not severe and can improve with non-invasive treatments like pain medication, exercise, and stress management techniques, professional evaluation and treatment are advisable to prevent worsening conditions.


Symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Pain in the neck that may be a continuous dull ache, or it could be sharp and burning, sometimes even radiating from the neck down to the shoulders or arms.
  • Difficulty in turning the neck or tilting the head.
  • Limited ability to move the head.
  • Experiencing headaches.
  • Stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  • A sensation of numbness or tingling, akin to “pins and needles,” in the shoulders or arms.

Immediate medical attention is required if severe neck pain is due to an accident, such as a motor vehicle collision, a diving mishap, or a fall.

Reach out to a healthcare professional if the neck pain:

  • Is intense.
  • Continues for several days without improvement.
  • Radiates down the arms or legs.
  • Is accompanied by headaches, numbness, weakness, or a tingling sensation.


Due to its role in supporting the weight of the head, the neck is susceptible to injuries and conditions that may lead to pain and limited motion. Causes of neck pain include:

  • Worn joints: Similar to other joints in the body, neck joints can wear down with age, leading to the formation of bone spurs. These spurs can impact joint motion and result in pain.
  • Muscle strains: Overuse, such as spending extended periods hunched over a computer or smartphone, can trigger muscle strains. Even seemingly minor activities, like reading in bed, may strain neck muscles.
  • Nerve compression: Herniated disks or bone spurs in the neck vertebrae may exert pressure on nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
  • Diseases: Certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer, can contribute to neck pain.
  • Injuries: Whiplash injuries often occur in rear-end auto collisions, causing the head to jerk backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.

Risk factors

Neck pain is prevalent, impacting 10% to 20% of adults. It is more frequently observed in women and individuals assigned female at birth. The likelihood of developing neck pain tends to rise with age.