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 either short-term and limited to minor discomfort, or be very severe, significantly interfering with everyday life. More often people complain that they suddenly feel a lumbago, after which persistent pain occurs. It can be aching, tingling, throbbing, constricting, or otherwise.

Neck pain is also called cervicalgia.

Discomfort usually increases during movements, for example, when turning or tilting the head, while maintaining a static, especially uncomfortable position for a long time, in particular, 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 the neck as much as possible.

Thus, it is obvious 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 - occurring against the background of pathological changes in the cervical spine, including with lesions of 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 neck pain

Vertebral pain is characterized by irradiation to the occipital region, shoulders, arms, up to the hands and fingers. Often, numbness, impaired sensitivity and mobility are observed, which indicates the development of neurological disorders, that is, infringement 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 headaches can be observed, which indicates 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, since it can be so diffuse that the sensations are blurred and it seems that the whole neck hurts. If this is accompanied by a feeling of perspiration or scratching in the throat, an increase in body temperature, then this may indicate laryngitis, SARS, sore throat, pharyngitis and other colds. Also, this symptomatology is typical for:

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

Still, 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.

Localization of pain is an important diagnostic feature that allows you to determine the source of pain at the stage of examination, and then thoroughly study the changes that have occurred using instrumental diagnostic methods.

Front neck pain: causes

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

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

That is, the list of possible causes is quite extensive and it is impossible to independently determine what exactly caused the pain in the neck. 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 may also be associated with anterior neck pain. In both cases, the cause is an infringement of blood vessels or nerves by a deformed intervertebral disc, edematous tissues, a displaced cervical vertebral body, or other structure. Our clinic has developed a comprehensive approach to solving this problem - experienced chiropractors, neurologists, rehabilitologists, endocrinologists will conduct an examination and prescribe the necessary treatment.

Back neck pain: causes

Due to the peculiarities of the modern lifestyle, people are very often worried about pain in the back of the neck. Working at a computer, constant use of gadgets, low level of physical activity and bad habits, all this causes pathological changes in the structure of the spine, which declare themselves with pain in the neck. Therefore, in the event of aching, pulling, sharp pains, lumbago in the back of the neck, first of all, a consultation with a chiropractor or a vertebrologist is required, since in the overwhelming 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 into the spinal canal, where the spinal cord and nerve roots pass), which causes the risk of pinching nerves and vertebral arteries;
  • intervertebral hernias are a consequence of the lack of treatment for protrusion, in which the internal contents of the intervertebral disc penetrates into the spinal canal, gradually increases and can seriously compress the nerves and spinal cord, and at the last stage of development, it separates and "travels" along the spinal canal, causing serious, and sometimes irreversible complications up to paralysis;
  • spondylosis is a complication of osteochondrosis, in which bony protrusions, called osteophytes, grow along the edges of the vertebral bodies, and the intervertebral discs are critically flattened, which eventually leads to fusion of adjacent vertebrae with each other and limiting 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 a whiplash injury, 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 of the body and causes severe restrictions on mobility due to the fusion of individual vertebrae with each other, forming strong and immobile conglomerates.

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

Side neck pain: causes

side neck pain

Most often, pain in the lateral surfaces of the neck is burning or throbbing, and they can also be tingling. They tend to give to the shoulder and ear, sometimes accompanied by the formation of a secondary torticollis, as a result of which the head tilts to the affected side. This is typical for:

  • blood vessel pathologies, including atherosclerosis;
  • muscle spasms, which can be triggered by a strong 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 overwhelming 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 tests, whether the discomfort in the neck is really due to disorders in the spine or it is caused by other diseases.

Nevertheless, 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 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 correct functioning of a particular organ, in the event of disorders in the cervical spine, the innervation of the ENT organs, vocal cords, thyroid and parathyroid glands can suffer, andalso muscles in the neck, shoulders and forearms. Therefore, initially their work is disrupted, 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 changes in the spine are not detected, and therefore consultation of a chiropractor is required without fail. But if the patient has signs of diseases of the thyroid gland, heart, ENT organs or others, he is additionally shown to receive advice from narrow specialists (endocrinologist, cardiologist, otolaryngologist, etc. ).

neck pain diagnostics

Thus, the diagnosis of the causes of neck pain is always complex. It can 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 gland, salivary glands;
  • x-ray of the cervical spine;
  • electroneuromyography;
  • CT;
  • MRI.

In order to diagnose pathologies of the spine, the most informative is MRI, i. e. , magnetic resonance imaging. The method allows you to study the state of the intervertebral discs to the smallest 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 at the earliest stages of development, which ensures 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 the internal organs, musculoskeletal muscles, and the brain . . Our experienced doctors will explain the findings 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. By the indicators of active cell mass, one can judge the level of physical activity and nutritional balance. This simple and quick test helps us see endocrine disruptions and take action. In addition, 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 rigidity, stress index (which speaks of heart rate), blood oxygen saturation. Such screening will be useful for men and women over 30, athletes, those who are undergoing long and difficult treatment, as well as everyone who monitors their health.

In this case, the analysis of body composition gives us information that the body is dominated by adipose tissue, and the bone - muscle 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.

Neck Pain Treatment

For each patient, the tactics of therapy is 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 disabilities can be prescribed different treatments, since even age and level of physical development affects it.

Nevertheless, 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-currents pressotherapy);
  • individual lessons with a rehabilitation doctor.
neck pain treatment

When diagnosing pathologies of the cervical spine, it is shown to make some adjustments to your lifestyle and habits. So, 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's also important to eat right so that the body gets all the nutrients it needs. This will allow not only to slow down the progression of 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 rash, sudden movements, which will lead to a gradual fading of the pain syndrome. In our center you can choose and purchase a bandage that suits you.

You can wrap your neck with a woolen 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 prescribed drugs and their amount can vary within a very wide range, which directly depends on the diagnosis and the presence of concomitant diseases. Therefore, we will list only those groups of drugs that are 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 helps to reduce the severity of pain;
  • chondroprotectors - drugs that promote the restoration of the cartilaginous tissue that make up the intervertebral discs, but are effective only in the initial stages of osteochondrosis;
  • B vitamins - used to improve the conduction of bioelectrical impulses from the spinal cord to the corresponding organs and restore their correct functioning;
  • vitamin D - a remedy responsible for the condition of bone tissue, as well as for higher brain functions, such as memory, memory, attention, speech.

Also, patients can be prescribed antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy, antihypertensive drugs and others.

For particularly severe neck pain, blockages are used. The procedures involve injecting anesthetic solutions with corticosteroids into the area where the nerves pass in the neck, which allows pain relief very quickly. But, in addition to the fact that they are effective only for pain caused by nerve damage, they require a high level of professionalism from medical professionals, since when performing a blockade, there is a risk of injury to the nerve, infection and provoke serious complications.

Manual therapy

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

manual therapy for neck pain

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

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

We do not have common standards of treatment, an individual approach is applied to each patient. Only a highly qualified specialist should be trusted to carry out 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 the therapy. They are indicated exclusively outside the acute period and have an analgesic, 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 physiotherapy 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 performed strictly at a certain interval.

exercise therapy

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

For each patient, a program of physiotherapy exercises is developed separately by a rehabilitation physician. It can be dangerous to use the complexes presented on the Internet, since they do not take into account the individual characteristics of the patient, his age, the degree of neglect of the pathological process and the level of physical fitness of the patient. Therefore, the development of a program of exercise therapy requires the help of a specialist. Moreover, the first few 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-study does not harm himself. At home, you should practice in a calm environment, avoiding any sudden movements, and if pain occurs, you should see a doctor.

Thus, neck pain is widespread. They can be caused by the development of various diseases, but most often the basis for the discomfort is spinal problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, you should not hesitate to see a doctor. Indeed, in the early stages of the development of the disease, it can be easily dealt with with conservative methods. While in advanced cases, neck pain and its causes can be eliminated exclusively by surgery.