Neck Pain: Causes, Accompanying Symptoms, and Treatment

The neck hurts at different intervals in 70% of adults. At the same time, painful sensations can not only be of a different nature, but also be caused by a variety of diseases. Therefore, they are mainly observed not in isolation, but are accompanied by other symptoms that help to correctly diagnose and choose the optimal treatment tactics.

Types of neck pain

types of neck pain

Neck pain can be short-term and limited to mild discomfort, or it can be very severe, significantly interfering with everyday life. More often, people complain that they suddenly feel low back pain, after which persistent pain occurs. It can be painful, tingling, throbbing, constricting, or otherwise.

Neck pain is also called neck pain.

The discomfort usually increases during movements, for example when turning or tilting the head, maintaining a static position for a long time, particularly uncomfortable, especially during long work at the computer. In this regard, a person is forced, often even unconsciously, to turn his whole body in order to spare his neck as much as possible.

So, it goes without saying that neck pain can be very different. Therefore, they are divided not only into acute (lasting less than 10 days) and chronic, but also into:

  • vertebrogenic - which occurs against the background of pathological changes in the cervical spine, including injuries of the intervertebral discs, compression of the spinal roots and spinal cord;
  • non-vertebral - resulting from all other causes, including infectious diseases, inflammatory processes in the muscles, diseases of the thyroid gland, lymph nodes, etc.
severe pain in the neck

Vertebral pain is characterized by irradiation to the occipital region, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Often, numbness, reduced sensitivity and mobility are observed, which indicate the development of neurological disorders, that is, the violation of one or another anatomical structure of the nerve roots or the spinal cord. Also, in such situations, dizziness, attacks of loss of consciousness and headache can be observed, which indicate compression of the vertebral arteries, for example, an intervertebral hernia.

It is urgent to make an appointment with a doctor if the neck pain is acute or accompanied by dizziness, a feeling of numbness in the back of the head or tinnitus.

Causes of neck pain

Sometimes it is difficult for patients to independently differentiate a sore throat from a pain in the neck, as it can be so widespread that the sensations are blurry and it seems that the entire neck hurts. If this is accompanied by a feeling of sweat or scratching in the throat, an increase in body temperature, then this can indicate laryngitis, SARS, sore throat, pharyngitis and other colds. In addition, such symptoms are typical of:

  • gastroesophageal reflux;
  • Itsenko-Cushing syndrome;
  • foreign bodies entering the pharynx, for example fish bones;
  • hypovitaminosis;
  • formation of benign and malignant tumors in the throat.

However, in most cases, people can differentiate throat problems from true neck pain, which can be observed both on the anterolateral surfaces and in the back and front.

The localization of pain is an important diagnostic feature that allows to determine the source of pain even in the examination phase and therefore to study the changes in depth using instrumental diagnostic methods.

Anterior neck pain: causes

The occurrence of unpleasant or even painful sensations directly in the area under the chin or pain spread over the entire front of the neck may indicate:

  • thyroid disease;
  • inflammatory processes in the muscles affecting ligaments and nerves;
  • formation of cysts and abscesses;
  • affection of the lymph nodes;
  • angina pectoris.
causes of neck pain

That is, the list of possible causes is quite large and it is impossible to independently determine what exactly caused the neck pain. In such situations, it is worth contacting a therapist for an examination. If necessary, the doctor will refer the patient to a narrow specialist of the desired profile.

Vertebral artery syndrome and radicular syndrome can also be associated with anterior neck pain. In either case, the cause is pinching of blood vessels or nerves by a deformed intervertebral disc, edematous tissues, a displaced cervical vertebral body, or other structure. Our clinic has developed an integrated approach to solve this problem: expert chiropractors, neurologists, rehabilitologists, endocrinologists will conduct an examination and prescribe the necessary treatment.

Back pain: causes

Due to the peculiarities of the modern lifestyle, people are very often worried about pain in the nape. Computer work, constant use of gadgets, low level of physical activity and bad habits - all this causes pathological changes in the structure of the spine, which manifest as pain in the neck. Therefore, in case of pains, pulls, sharp pains, low back pain in the back of the neck, first of all, consultation with a chiropractor or vertebrologist is necessary, since in the vast majority of cases this indicates diseases of the cervical spine, namely:

  • osteochondrosis is a widespread disease accompanied by degenerative-dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs, a decrease in their height and a decrease in strength;
  • protrusion - a complication of osteochondrosis, in which the intervertebral disc protrudes (more often in the spinal canal, where the spinal cord and nerve roots pass), which causes the risk of pinching the vertebral nerves and arteries;
  • intervertebral hernias - a consequence of the lack of treatment for protrusion, in which the internal contents of the intervertebral disc penetrates the spinal canal, gradually increases and can seriously compress the nerves and spinal cord, and in the last stage of development itseparates and "travels" along the spinal canal, causing serious, and sometimes irreversible complications up to paralysis;
  • spondylosis is a complication of osteochondrosis, in which the bony protrusions, called osteophytes, grow along the edges of the vertebral bodies and the intervertebral discs are critically flattened, which over time leads to fusion of the adjacent vertebrae andthe limitation of the mobility of the neck;
  • myofascial syndrome - a disease in which individual muscles spasm, which leads to attacks of acute pain during physical activity or when pressing on certain points in the neck;
  • compression fractures of the vertebrae - most often occur in the elderly with osteoporosis or are the result of whiplash, for example, in an accident, and pose a serious threat to human life and health;
  • Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease that affects almost all joints in the body and causes severe mobility restrictions due to the fusion of the individual vertebrae together, forming strong and immobile conglomerates.

Much less often back pain is caused by spinal tuberculosis, osteomyelitis or Reiter's syndrome.

Lateral neck pain: causes

lateral neck pain

Very often, pain in the lateral surfaces of the neck burns or throbs and can also cause tingling. They tend to give way to the shoulder and ear, sometimes accompanied by the formation of a secondary torticollis, as a result of which the head tilts towards the affected side. This is typical of:

  • blood vessel disorders, including atherosclerosis;
  • muscle spasms, which may be triggered by a heavy load on the neck, sudden movement or hypothermia;
  • formation of malignant formations in the thyroid gland, pharynx and larynx.

Diagnosis of the causes of neck pain

Since in the vast majority of cases, neck pain is caused by the development of pathologies of the cervical spine, when they appear, it is worth contacting a chiropractor, vertebrologist or neurologist. The doctor will be able to determine, on the basis of complaints, examination data and neurological examinations, whether the discomfort in the neck is really caused by disorders of the spine or is caused by other diseases.

However, it is the deviations from the norm in the state of the spine that, in fact, are one of the reasons for the development of concomitant diseases of the internal organs. After all, a change in the position of the vertebrae, a decrease in the height of the intervertebral discs and other, even minor, changes lead to a violation of the transmission of nerve impulses from the spinal cord through the nerve roots along the nerves to the internal organs.

Since the spinal cord is characterized by segmental innervation, that is, each part of it is responsible for the proper functioning of a particular organ, in case of disorders of the cervical spine, the innervation of the ENT organs, vocal cords, thyroid and parathyroid glandscan suffer, even muscles of the neck, shoulders and forearms. Therefore, initially their work is stopped, and over time organic changes appear, that is, this or that disease develops, which can provoke pain of varying intensity and character in the neck.

Therefore, diseases of internal organs are rarely diagnosed and no changes in the spine are detected, therefore, consultation with a chiropractor is required. But if the patient has signs of diseases of the thyroid, heart, ENT organs or others, he is also shown to receive advice from narrow specialists (endocrinologist, cardiologist, otolaryngologist, etc. ).

neck pain diagnostics

Therefore, diagnosing the causes of neck pain is always complex. It may include:

  • general and biochemical blood test;
  • determination of the level of thyroid hormones in the blood;
  • Ultrasound with dopplerography of the vessels of the neck, thyroid, salivary glands;
  • x-ray of the cervical spine;
  • electroneuromyography;
  • CT;
  • MRI.

To diagnose pathologies of the spine, magnetic resonance imaging is the most informative. The method allows you to study the state of the intervertebral discs in great detail, assess the quality of blood flow in the vertebral arteries and detect signs of compression of the spinal cord or its roots. With its help, diseases are diagnosed in the early stages of development, which guarantees the earliest possible start of treatment and its high efficiency.

In our clinic, you can also learn more about the composition of your body and the state of the vascular system, which is involved in the blood supply to internal organs, musculoskeletal muscles and the brain. . Our experienced doctors will explain the results to you in detail. Bioimpedansometry calculates the ratio of fat, muscle, bone and skeletal mass, total body fluid, basal metabolic rate. The intensity of the recommended physical activity depends on the condition of the muscle mass. Metabolic processes, in turn, affect the body's ability to recover. From the indicators of active cell mass one can judge the level of physical activity and nutritional balance. This quick and easy test helps us see endocrine disruptions and take action. Furthermore, it is also very important for us to know the state of blood vessels for the prevention of diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension, heart failure, diabetes mellitus and much more. Angioscan allows you to determine such important indicators as the biological age of blood vessels, their stiffness, the stress index (which speaks of heart rate), oxygen saturation in the blood. Such screening will be useful for men and women after 30, athletes, those who are undergoing long and difficult treatment, as well as all those who monitor their health.

In this case, the analysis of the body composition gives us information that the body is dominated by adipose tissue and that the muscle-bone component is in relative deficit. These data will help the rehabilitator to correctly draw up a plan of physical activity, taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient.

Treatment of neck pain

For each patient, the tactics of therapy are developed strictly individually on the basis of the diagnosis, the severity of pathological changes, the presence of concomitant diseases and other factors. Even patients with the same disability can be prescribed different treatments, as age and level of physical development also affect it.

However, the treatment of diseases that cause neck pain is always complex and includes both symptomatic and etiotropic therapy. In other words, it is aimed at eliminating the symptoms of the disease and the causes of its occurrence. The main components of therapy are often:

  • drug treatment;
  • osteopathy;
  • manual therapy;
  • massage;
  • physiotherapy (phonophoresis, carboxytherapy, ozone therapy, RF current pressotherapy);
  • individual lessons with a rehabilitation doctor.
neck pain treatment

When diagnosing pathologies of the cervical spine, it has been shown to make some changes to your lifestyle and habits. Therefore, office workers, drivers, seamstresses and representatives of other sedentary professions are advised to warm up as often as possible and avoid long-term preservation of a forced body position, especially requiring tension of the neck muscles.

It is also important to eat right so that the body receives all the nutrients it needs. This will allow not only to slow down the progression of the pathology, but also contribute to a faster course of regeneration processes.

For severe pain, the chiropractor may recommend that the patient purchase a neck brace or Chance collar. Wearing it will help unload the cervical spine and avoid making rashes, sudden movements, which will lead to a gradual fading of the pain syndrome. In our center you can choose and buy a bandage that suits you.

You can wrap your neck with a wool scarf to relieve pain before your appointment, or take an anesthetic pill no later than 12 hours before taking.

Drug therapy

The nature of the drugs prescribed and their quantity can vary within a very wide range, which directly depends on the diagnosis and the presence of concomitant diseases. Therefore, we list only those groups of drugs prescribed to the vast majority of patients:

  • NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that also differ in analgesic properties (produced in various dosage forms, including tablets, ointments, solutions for injections, etc. );
  • corticosteroids are drugs with a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, which are used only for severe inflammatory processes that NSAIDs cannot eliminate;
  • muscle relaxants - drugs that eliminate muscle spasms of various origins, which help reduce the severity of pain;
  • chondroprotectors - drugs that promote the restoration of the cartilage tissue of which the intervertebral discs are made, but are effective only in the initial stages of osteochondrosis;
  • B vitamins - used to improve the conduction of bioelectric impulses from the spinal cord to the corresponding organs and restore their proper functioning;
  • vitamin D - a remedy responsible for the condition of the bone tissue, as well as higher brain functions, such as memory, memory, attention, speech.

In addition, patients may be prescribed antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy, antihypertensive drugs and others.

For particularly severe neck pain, blocks are used. The procedures involve injecting corticosteroid anesthetic solutions into the area where the nerves in the neck pass, which allows for pain relief very quickly. But, in addition to the fact that they are only effective for pain caused by nerve damage, they also require a high level of professionalism on the part of healthcare professionals, as when performing a block there is a risk of nerve injury, infection and causingserious complications.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy is one of the most effective ways to deal with neck pain and its causes, but only if done correctly. It has a direct effect on the spine and surrounding soft tissues. Do not confuse manual therapy with therapeutic massage, in which only the back and neck muscles are trained.

manual therapy for neck pain

Techniques and methods of manual therapy literally allow after the first session to achieve a significant improvement in well-being and, ultimately, a complete remission. This is achieved via:

  • restoration of the normal axis of the spine by returning the vertebrae to their anatomically correct position
  • increase the distance between the vertebral bodies and the release of compressed nerves and blood vessels, which helps to eliminate the signs of radicular syndrome, improves the functioning of internal organs and especially the brain;
  • elimination of spasm of the neck muscles and functional blocks, which improves mobility and reduces the severity of pain;
  • improves blood circulation and tissue nutrition.

We have no common treatment standards, an individual approach is applied to each patient. Only a highly qualified specialist should be trusted to perform manual therapy. Otherwise, the use of inappropriate techniques can only harm the patient, aggravate the problem or provoke the development of complications.


Physiotherapy procedures are used to improve the effectiveness of therapy. They are shown exclusively outside the acute period and have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, as well as improve microcirculation in soft tissues and contribute to the normalization of muscle tone.

Usually courses are prescribed, consisting of 8-15 procedures. These can be:

physiotherapy for neck pain
  • electrophoresis;
  • UHF;
  • ultrasound therapy;
  • laser therapy;
  • traction therapy (spinal traction);
  • mud baths, etc.

The number of sessions of physiotherapeutic procedures and the frequency of their implementation are selected by the doctor individually. Some procedures can be combined with each other, while others should be carried out strictly at a certain interval.

physical therapy

Physiotherapy is one of the essential components of conservative therapy for neck pain. Since they most often occur against the background of muscle overload and degenerative-dystrophic processes in the intervertebral discs caused by this, it is important to pay due attention to physical therapy and daily exercise.

For each patient, a physiotherapy exercise program is developed separately by a rehabilitation doctor. It can be dangerous to use the complexes presented on the Internet, as they do not take into account the individual characteristics of the patient, her age, the degree of neglect of the pathological process and the patient's level of fitness. Therefore, developing a physical therapy program requires the help of a specialist. In addition, the first sessions are necessarily carried out under his control, so that the patient can understand how to perform each exercise and in the process of self-learning does not harm himself. At home, you should practice in a calm environment, avoiding sudden movements, and if pain occurs, you should consult a doctor.

Hence, neck pain is widespread. They can be caused by the development of various diseases, but the most common cause of discomfort is spinal problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, you should not hesitate to consult a doctor. Indeed, in the early stages of the development of the disease, it can be easily coped with conservative methods. While in advanced cases, neck pain and its causes can only be eliminated with surgery.