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Neck pain

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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From MayoClinic.com

Causes

Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over a steering wheel, often triggers muscle strains. Neck muscles, particularly those in the back of your neck, become fatigued and eventually strained.

When you overuse your neck muscles repeatedly, chronic pain can develop. Even such minor things as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.

  • Arthritis. Just like all the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to deteriorate with age. If you have ever had whiplash, you're six times as likely to eventually develop arthritis in your neck.

  • Disk disorders. As you age, the cushioning disks between your vertebrae become dry, narrowing the spaces in your spinal column where the nerves come out. The disks in your neck also can herniate. This means the inner gelatinous material of a disk protrudes through the disk's tough covering. Nearby nerves can be irritated. Other tissues and bony growths also can press on your nerves as they exit your spinal cord, causing pain.

  • Injury. Rear-end collisions often result in whiplash injuries, which occur when the head is jerked forward and back, stretching the soft tissues of the neck beyond their limits.

When to seek medical advice

Muscle irritations are usually easy to self-diagnose. They typically come on after excessive activity, a period of overuse or prolonged postures that put excessive strain on your neck muscles. But they usually get better on their own within a few days to a couple of weeks. If the pain doesn't let up within a week or two, see your doctor.

Also see your doctor if the following signs and symptoms occur in conjunction with neck pain:

  • Severe pain from an injury. After head or neck trauma, such as whiplash or a blow to your head, see your doctor immediately. Severe pain over a bone might indicate a fracture or an injury to a ligament.

  • Shooting pain. Pain radiating to your shoulder, through your shoulder blades or down your arm, or numbness or tingling in your fingers, may indicate nerve irritation. Neck pain from nerve irritation can last from three to six months or longer. Because serious problems may occur after continued nerve irritation, see your doctor.

  • Loss of strength. Weakness in an arm or a leg, signaled by dropping things, walking with a stiff leg and shuffling your feet, indicates the need for immediate evaluation.

  • Change in bladder or bowel habits. Any significant change, especially a sudden onset of incontinence, could indicate a neurologic problem.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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