Pain - neck; Neck stiffness
Neck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include muscles and nerves as well as spinal vertebrae and the cushioning disks in between. Neck pain may also come from areas near the neck such as the shoulder, jaw, head, and upper arms.
When your neck is sore, you may have difficulty moving it, especially to one side. Many people describe this as having a stiff neck.
If neck pain involves nerves (for example, significant muscle spasm pinching on a nerve or a slipped disk pressing on a nerve), you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hand, or elsewhere.
Whiplash Herniated disk Spinal stenosis
A common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension. Usually, everyday activities are to blame. Such activities include bending over a desk for hours, having poor posture while watching TV or reading, placing your computer monitor too high or too low, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or twisting and turning the neck in a jarring manner while exercising.
Traumatic accidents or falls can cause severe neck injuries like vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injury, and even paralysis.
Other causes include:
- Other medical conditions, such as
- Cervical arthritis or
- Ruptured disk
- Small fractures to the spine from
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Infection of the spine (
osteomyelitis, diskitis, abscess)
- Cancer that involves the spine
Review Date: 01/05/2011
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery (7/10/2009).