Neck Pain Overview

What is it?

Neck pain is a common condition and is more frequently seen in women than men. Most people will experience pain in the neck at some point in their life. Neck pain can be acute or chronic, but it is typically not a serious condition. It can range from mild discomfort to severe, burning pain. If the pain has lasted more than three months, it's termed “chronic” neck pain.

What causes it?

Pain in the neck can be due to injury, a mechanical or muscular problem, a trapped nerve caused by a bulge in one of the discs between the vertebrae or from arthritis of the neck. Neck pain can be experienced after spending a day slumped over a desk or prolonged use of a computer keyboard. It is commonly caused by poor posture and overuse. The more you use your neck and shoulder muscles, the more tired and vulnerable to strain they become. Neck pain may also be the result of a sports injury.

Chronic neck pain may be caused by:

Neck pain may also be triggered by:

In some cases, neck pain may be a symptom of meningitis (accompanied by severe headache or continuous vomiting).

Common treatments

Neck pain doesn’t usually require immediate medical attention.In most cases, neck pain can be relieved with simple home treatment.

This may include:

Acupuncture provides relief for many people with chronic neck pain. Neck pain is rarely caused by a serious illness. It will often disappear within a week. If you have pains in the neck for a prolonged period, you should consult a doctor or a physical therapist – such as a chiropractor or physiotherapist. However, if you are also experiencing numbness and/or shooting pain in your arm, swollen glands or lumps in your neck, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or changes in bowel movements, see your doctor as your pain could be the symptom of a more serious condition. You should also see your doctor immediately if your neck pain was caused by an injury.