Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack, but it often presents with other symptoms of a heart attack, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Arm or Jaw pain
Other causes include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, neck pain can result.
- Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures. This condition often happens in hands or knees, but it can also occur in the neck.
- Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.
- As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This is known as spondylosis, or osteoarthritis of the neck. This can narrow the space between the vertebrae. It also adds stress to your joints.
- When a disk protrudes, as from a trauma or injury, it may add pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This is called a herniated cervical disk, also known as a ruptured or slipped disk.
- Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows and causes pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots as it exits the vertebrae. This can be due to long-term inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.
- Congenital abnormalities
- Cancer of the spine
- Pain and stiffness
- Patient may feel pain in the middle or on either side of neck, but it may also extend to the shoulder or to the upper chest.
- Patient may have pain or weakness in arms.
- Patient may have tension headaches, where the pain can travel to the back of head and sometimes into ear or behind eye.
- It may be painful to move your neck and your muscles may feel tight, especially if you’ve been sitting or sleeping in one position for a long time.
- You may notice that your neck won’t turn as far as it normally does, for example when you try to look over your shoulder while reversing the car.
- Numbness or tingling
- Clicking and grating noises
- Dizziness and blackouts
- Muscle spasms
If you have minor neck pain or stiffness, take these simple steps to relieve it:
- Apply ice for the first few days. After that, apply heat with a heating pad, hot compress, or by taking a hot shower.
- Take OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Take a few days off from sports, activities that aggravate your symptoms, and heavy lifting. When you resume normal activity, do so slowly as your symptoms ease.
- Exercise your neck every day. Slowly stretch your head in side-to-side and up-and-down motions.
- Use good posture.
- Avoid cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder.
- Change your position often. Don’t stand or sit in one position for too long.
- Get a gentle neck massage.
- Use a special neck pillow for sleeping.
- Don’t use a neck brace or collar without your doctor’s approval. If you don’t use them properly, they can make your symptoms worse.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you correct posture, alignment and neck-strengthening exercises, and can use heat, ice, electrical stimulation and other measures to help ease your pain and prevent a recurrence.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Electrodes placed on your skin near the painful areas deliver tiny electrical impulses that may relieve pain.
- Traction. Traction uses weights, pulleys or an air bladder to gently stretch your neck.
- Short-term immobilization. A soft collar that supports your neck may help relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in your neck.
- Steroid injections. Doctor might inject corticosteroid medications near the nerve roots, into the small facet joints in the bones of the cervical spine or into the muscles in your neck to help with pain. Numbing medications, such as lidocaine, also can be injected to relieve your neck pain.
- Rarely needed for neck pain, surgery might be an option for relieving nerve root or spinal cord compression.