Neck pain is pain that starts in the neck and can be associated with radiating pain down one or both of the arms. Neck pain can come from many disorders or diseases that involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, or muscles. The neck region of the spinal column, the cervical spine, consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae), which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP IF YOU HAVE NECK PAIN?
Seek medical help for neck pain if:
- It occurs after an injury or blow(s) to the head.
- A stiff neck prevents from touching chin to chest.
- Pain shoots down one or both arms.
- There is tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands.
- Neck symptoms are associated with leg weakness or loss of coordination in arms or legs.
- The pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication.
- Pain does not improve after a week.
- Fever or headache accompanies neck pain.
TESTING AND DIAGNOSING NECK PAIN
Diagnosis is made based on patient history, symptoms, a physical examination and results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. The tests may include:
- Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan)
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Selective Nerve Root Block