Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Can Neck Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious

Don't Miss

What Does A Torn Artery In Neck Feel Like

Unusual, persistent neck pain A vertebral artery tear may feel like something sharp is stuck in the base of your skull. If you experience such pain — especially if you also have stroke symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, jerky eye movements, unsteadiness while walking, or slurred speech — call 911 immediately.

What Are The Main Causes Of Neck And Arm Pain

Potential causes of neck and arm pain include:

  • Aging
  • Injury to the neck or head
  • Prolonged neck problems
  • Problems in the cervical spine, or the section of the spine in your neck, can cause pain in the neck as well as numbness and weakness in the arms
  • Whiplash injuries

More complicated causes of neck and arm pain include:

Herniated and bulging discs:

  • Wear on a disc can cause the outer layer to rupture, creating a hernia.
  • The herniated disc can push on the spinal canal and nerve roots, causing pain, numbness, and weakness.
  • A bulging disc can also put pressure on the nerve, but the disc does not actually rupture as with a herniated disc.

Bone spurs:

  • Wear on the vertebrae can cause bone spurs, which are bony malformations that can put pressure on discs and inflame the nerves, causing pain.
  • Since bone spurs can put pressure on discs, the discs can flatten, dehydrate, and become degenerate.

Cervical spinal stenosis:

  • Cervical spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column or foramen due to bone spurs or disc protrusion. It is sometimes referred to as a “pinched nerve”.
  • Central stenosis can pinch the spinal cord, and foraminal stenosis can pinch the nerve roots that exit through the foramen.
  • This pinching can cause back, shoulder, and arm pain. It can also cause numbness and weakness in the arms and hands.

Our staff can help you determine if your neck or arm pain is serious.


Neck Pain Can Signal Serious Disease

Neck pain can sometimes signal a serious underlying medical issue that needs to be checked by a doctor. Typically, such neck pain will be accompanied by at least one other symptom, often before the stiff or painful neck occurs.

Additional symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea, unexplained drowsiness, confusion or mood swings, unexplained weight loss, or pain that spreads to arms or legs. All these symptoms, along with neck pain, are reasons to check with your doctor.

Treatment And Home Remedies

When neck pain is mild or moderate, symptoms can usually remain treated at home. Some cases of neck pain will disappear quickly within a day, while others may take a few weeks to resolve fully.

Someone with this pain might want to use home remedies before seeking medical help. Here are some methods to relieve pain:

  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
  • applying heat with heating pads, baths, or towels dampened with lukewarm water
  • massaging and manipulating the neck
  • stretch your neck
  • apply ice to the injured area
  • practice good posture when sitting, standing, and walking
  • sleeping in a position where the channel is supported
  • doing exercises to help keep your neck strong

However, home remedies do not permanently relieve pain. Some people will need medical treatment to relieve their neck pain. The exact treatment will depend on whether or not an underlying condition is causing the pain.

What Causes Back And Neck Pain

Can Neck Pain be a Sign of Something Serious?

Even with today’s technology, the exact cause of back and neck pain is difficult to determine. In most cases, back and neck pain may have many different causes, including any of the following:

  • Overuse, strenuous activity, or improper use, such as repetitive or heavy lifting

  • Trauma, injury, or fractures

  • Degeneration of vertebrae, often caused by stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support your spine, or the effects of aging

  • Infection

  • Abnormal growth, such as a tumor or bone spur

  • Obesity, which places increased weight on your spine, and pressure on your discs

  • Poor muscle tone

  • Joint problems, such as arthritis

  • Smoking

  • Protruding or herniated disk and pinched nerve

  • Osteoporosis and compression fractures

  • Congenital abnormalities of your vertebrae and bones

  • Abdominal problems, such as an aortic aneurysm 

The Complete Guide To Neck Pain & Cricks

This article might ease your mind, but what about your neck pain? If your pain is becoming chronic , or if you just keep having flare-ups, you may want to dive much deeper into the topic. There aren’t any easy answers for stubborn neck pain, but there is evidence-based hope, and the neck pain tutorial explores the topic extremely thoroughly. The main text is written for patients, but it’s also extensively referenced for keen readers and healthcare professionals. Read the introduction.

What Are The Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of neck pain may be stiffness, tightness, aching, burning or stabbing or shooting pains, pressure, or tingling. Muscles can feel sore or tense in the neck, face, or shoulders. Muscles can spasm when they go into a state of extreme contraction . Movement may be restricted — perhaps you cannot turn your head. If nerves are involved, pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness may develop in your shoulders, arms or hands.

Several situations signal the need for prompt medical attention. If nerve compression is severe, symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling in the arms or legs, loss of bladder or bowel control, or loss of strength and problems with coordination.

Neck pain along with a severe headache, fever, or nausea could be a sign of infection or a bleed in the brain. If your neck is so stiff that you can’t touch your chin to chest, seek medical help immediately.

Fix Your Daily Habits

There are some useful habits for those who drive for a long time. In these people, the neck muscles must continually balance the micro-displacements caused by jolts and vibrations. The car seat must be straight and in a position. It allows you to keep your folded arms comfortably relaxing on the drive wheel. Take a pause after every 2 hours of stretching your muscles. It is good to use a pillow that does not force the head into an unnatural or annoying position during sleep.

What Treatments Are Available

Healing begins with self-care and nonsurgical strategies . The goal is to correct the problem, restore function, and prevent re-injury.

Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments aren’t working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.

Medications: Many people get pain relief with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed for spasms. If pain is severe, an analgesic may be prescribed that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant.

Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally as a Medrol dose pack tapered over a five-day period or by an injection directly into the pain source . Steroids may provide immediate pain relief within 24-hours.

Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed unless you have muscle weakness, a proven disc herniation, cervical cord compression, problems with balance and coordination, or severe pain that does not resolve after a reasonable course of nonsurgical treatment.

How Are Neck And Shoulder Pain Treated

The treatment of soft tissue neck and shoulder pain often includes the use of anti-inflammatory such as or . Pain relievers such as may also be recommended. Depending on the source of pain, drugs like muscle relaxers and even might be helpful. Pain also may be treated with a local application of moist heat or ice. Local corticosteroid injections are often helpful for arthritis of the shoulder. For both neck and shoulder pain movement, exercises may help. For cases in which nerve roots or the spinal cord are involved, surgical procedures may be necessary. Your doctor can tell you which is the best course of treatment for you.

Most Common Serious Condition With Stiff Neck

Meningitis—which in its most dangerous form is a bacterial infection that causes the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord to be inflamed—is the most common serious condition associated with a stiff neck.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a fever, headache, and stiff neck are typically early symptoms of bacterial meningitis.FOOT|1] When any two of these symptoms are present together, they should be immediately checked out by a doctor.

See When Neck Stiffness May Mean Meningitis

Meningitis symptoms usually develop within a few days of exposure, and the individual’s condition could worsen gradually or rapidly. Early treatment for meningitis is critical for having a good outcome. Delayed treatment could result in poor outcomes, such as hearing loss, brain damage, or even death.

It should be noted that a stiff neck is not always present with meningitis, and other symptoms could include nausea, heightened sensitivity to light or loud noises, or confusion, among others.

Meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.

Can I Prevent Neck And Back Pain

The following may help to prevent back and neck pain:

  • Practice correct lifting techniques: avoid heavy lifting; when you do lift something, bend your legs, keep your back straight, and then slowly lift your body and the object.

  • Properly use telephones, computers, and other equipment.

  • Maintain correct posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping.

  • Exercise regularly. Learn specific back-strengthening exercises to keep your back muscles strong. Warm up with stretching exercises before doing back exercises.

  • Do exercises that improve your balance.

  • Avoid smoking.

  • Reduce emotional stress, which may cause muscle tension.

  • Make sure you have enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet.

The Universal Guide To Neck Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts

Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?

In This Article:What Is Neck Pain?  |  Neck Anatomy  |    |    |    |    |  Nonsurgical Treatments  |  Surgery Options   |  Living With  |  

A pain-free neck is a lot like the carefree days of our youth — we don’t appreciate it ‘til its gone. Neck pain can make life feel pretty unbearable and affect your social life, family time, hobbies and even work productivity.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with neck pain. Whether you’ve just woken up with a whopper of a crick in your neck, sustained an injury or have been dealing with chronic neck pain, this handy guide can help you understand the anatomy of your cervical spine, different causes and types of neck pain, and learn more about the common treatments for neck pain.

Although neck pain is commonly caused by strain, prolonged pain may be an indication of something more serious. Photo Source:

What Causes Or Increases My Risk For Chronic Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain is often caused by a joint or disc problem in the neck. Any of the following can cause neck pain:

  • Stenosis of your spinal column, or degeneration or inflammation of the discs in your neck
  • Inflammation from a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, or rotator cuff tendinitis
  • A condition that affects neck to arm nerves, such as thoracic outlet syndrome or brachial neuritis
  • A fracture of a neck bone that causes nerve damage

Is Your Neck Pain Serious

We’ve all woken up and realized we’re going to have to get through the day without turning our heads because of neck pain. Neck pain can be startling and have a debilitating effect on your daily life. You’re ready for it to leave the instant it shows up, and much like any kind of spinal pain, it can be unnerving. You never know for sure how long the neck pain will last, and if it persists for a while, it’s easy to start worrying that you’re dealing with something more serious than a tweaked muscle.

At the Spine Institute of North America, we have a lot of experience with pain management in the neck, as well as signs of neck issues that are really serious. Neck pain can indicate something else like infection, injury, autoimmune disease, or cancer. The good news here is that when you have something as serious as an autoimmune disease or cancer, you usually have a bunch of additional symptoms that are pretty hard to miss. In today’s blog, we want to share some ways you can navigate neck pain and determine whether or not you need to get medical attention.

What Are Common Neck Pain Causes

“Neck pain tends to peak in middle age, and is slightly more common in women and in patients with a family history of neck pain,” says NYC-based interventional pain physician and physiatrist, Benjamin Bonte, MD. “Smokers, patients with psychological diagnoses such as depression and anxiety, and patients with a sedentary lifestyle are also more at risk.”

Neck pain is most common in people over the age of 50. But beyond good old aging, the causes of neck pain are as varied as the list is long. Speaking of – here’s a list of some of the more common causes of neck pain:

  • Injury and Accidents:
  • is a common neck injury sustained when the head is forced to move backward and/or forward beyond the normal range of motion. The unnatural and rapid movement of the neck affects the muscles and ligaments, which tighten and contract. This creates muscle fatigue resulting in pain and stiffness. Whiplash is most commonly sustained due to a car accident, but can also result from traumas such as a fall or a sports accident.
  • Nerve Compression: “When a nerve becomes compressed, it can cause pain that moves up into the head, behind the eyes, into the jaw, down the arms,” says Dr. Penhollow. Herniated discs are the most common cause of nerve compression and , but bone spurs can also compress nerves.

The most common types of neck pain.

There are different neck pain profiles. Some people experience only one type, while others experience a combination.

Prevent Neck Pain Naturally

In most cases, neck pain occurs due to bad sitting habits. If the position is not fixed, it can trigger more pain. If you spend many hours at your desk, it is recommended to ensure that the screen is no less than 50 cm from the face and a little lower. So, the head remains straight. The mouse must be close to the keyboard. Both should be used with the forearms resting on the desk.

When Should I Call My Health Care Provider

See your health care provider if you have:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control, with weakness in both legs.  These symptoms require immediate attention

  • Severe back or neck pain that does not decrease with medication and rest

  • Pain after an injury or a fall

  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your legs or arms

  • Fever

  • Back and neck problems range from minor aches to severe, disabling pain

  • Often, the reasons for your pain cannot be identified.

  • See a health care provider if you have numbness or tingling, severe  pain that does not improve with medication and rest, difficulty urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, unintentional weight loss, or pain after a fall.

  • Often, back and neck pain will improve over time. Consult with your health care provider if your pain is not decreasing.

  • Use prevention strategies to keep yourself healthy and injury-free.

For severe, disabling, or chronic back pain, consider an individualized rehabilitation program.

What Are The Main Causes Of Neck Pain

“It’s usually a combination of poor posture and lots of tension around the area. People who sit at a desk all the time tend to slump rather than sitting with their backs straight.

“This puts strain on the back and builds tension in the neck and upper shoulder muscles. This usually results in your typical stiff, painful sore neck and tension headache.

“People who sleep badly, because they have the incorrect number of pillows or an uncomfortable mattress, can wake up in the morning with quite a stiff, painful neck because of the angle their head has been resting at in the night.

“The most extreme example of that is something called a wry neck . You’ll literally go to bed and wake up in the morning and your neck will be at a painfully tilted angle that you can’t straighten out.”

Signs Back Pain Is Something More Serious

Anybody who has ever experienced back pain knows that it’s no joking matter.

Per the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the number one cause of disability around the globe. In the United States, 80 million working adults experience the discomfort of the back or neck every year, resulting in a total of more than 260 million days of work missed.

Here are some other facts about this painful condition:

– 80% of people experience an aching or painful back at some time in their lives.

– Backaches are the 3rd most common reason for doctor visits.

– Back issues costs Americans up to $100 billion annually.

– Most causes of spinal discomfort are caused not by a medical condition, but an alteration of the back’s physiology

– The number of disabled due to problems with the lower back has risen 54% between 1990 and 2015.

Back pain, if left untreated, can progress into a chronic and debilitating medical condition. For the vast majority of such cases, the resultant symptoms are wholly preventable.

While back pain is quite common, and its symptoms uncomfortable, spinal pain is rarely severe. However, there are exceptions. In this article, we’re going to describe seven signs that your back pain may be more serious than you think. We’ll also discuss the causes, symptoms, and risk factors associated with back pain.

Let’s do this!

Get Help For Your Back Pain

Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?

While this all may sound dire, you can take comfort in knowing that upwards of 90% of low back pain presentations in the ER are benign, according to findings. The important thing is to stay as calm as you can as you assess your pain and symptoms and rely on medical experts to assist you and get down to the bottom of why you’re feeling the way you are.

Dr. Drymalski emphasizes, “Remember that back pain is very common and the vast majority of the time it will be self-limiting and benign. If you are concerned or have red-flag symptoms, emergent evaluation may be necessary. It is important to always tell your doctor all of your symptoms, even if you don’t know if they are related to your back pain, so your doctor can develop the most appropriate workup and treatment plan for you.”

Intro: The Lancet. “Non-specific low back pain”

Intro: The Spine Journal “Low back pain in the United States: incidence and risk factors for presentation in the emergency setting”

The Bottom Line: Emergency Medicine Cases “Low Back Pain Emergencies”


What Are Neck Pain Symptoms

Other than neck pain itself, you may notice other symptoms that accompany the pain. Some of the more common symptoms of neck pain include:

  • Neck muscle stiffness: Tight muscles in the back of the head or a “muscle knot” in the neck. This may spread to your shoulders, upper back and arms.
  • Headache: Experiencing headaches in the occipital region is very common but can also extend to the top of the head, causing “tension” headaches from muscle tightness.
  • Pain and/or weakness that shoots down the arm: This may be caused by muscle fatigue or nerve compression. Very often along specific nerve roots .
  • Loss of neck mobility: Inability to turn your head and neck easily.
  • Paraesthesias: A sensation of numbness and/or tingling in the arms, most often caused by nerve compression at the level of the spine, or as the branching nerves pass through tight, inflamed muscles.

If your neck pain is caused by nerve compression, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
  • A feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” in arm, fingers or hand
  •  Sharp, burning pain near the pinched nerve that radiates outward

Some conditions, such as coronary artery disease or even lung tumors may mimic these conditions, notes Stewart G. Eidelson, MD. “It is best to have a skilled physician perform a thorough physical examination when the symptoms described are present,” he says.

How Are Neck And Shoulder Pain Diagnosed

  • X-rays: Plain X-rays can reveal narrowing of the space between two spinal bones, arthritis-like diseases, tumors, slipped discs, narrowing of the spinal canal, and instability of the spinal column.
  • MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive procedure that can reveal the detail of neural elements, as well as problems with the tendons and ligaments.
  • Myelography/CT scanning: This is sometimes used as an alternative to MRI.
  • Electrodiagnostic studies: Electromyography and nerve conduction velocity are sometimes used to diagnose neck and shoulder pain, arm pain, numbness and tingling.

Schedule A Visit With An Expert If You:

  • Experience mild to moderate back pain for more than a few days
  • Mild to moderate neck pain lasts for more than a few days
  • Have lessened or no feeling in areas of your body
  • Have pain extending into your extremities
  • Have leg or arm weakness
  • Feel leg heaviness or tiredness with walking
  • Experience dexterity issues such as difficulty writing or in hobbies like crocheting
  • Have trouble walking or exercising normally
  • Feel persistent pain following an injury

Theres A Pain In Your Side

Oh, boy. Has anyone reading this ever had a kidney stone? If you have, you’re well aware of the agony – and the frustration of getting rid of it.

Which brings us to the next point. If you feel a sharp pain in the upper back and on your side, you should get checked out. Kidney stones often manifest these symptoms. Other possible signs of kidney stones: discomfort or tenderness while peeing, or brown- or red-hued urine. If you feel pain below the shoulder blades, you may have an issue with your gallbladder and should be seen by a doctor.

What Do I Need To Know About Neck Anatomy

You don’t need to memorize the physiology and anatomy of your neck to improve its function and reduce pain, but it’s helpful to have a general understanding of your cervical spine.

Neck mobility is matchless. Although you won’t get any Exorcist-style head spinning, it is capable of moving the head in many directions: 90° of flexion , 90° of extension , 180° of rotation , and almost 120° of tilt to either shoulder.

But all that mobility comes at the cost of complexity. First you’ve got your seven vertebrae , each cushioned by an intervertebral disc and connected by facet joints. There are also 32 muscles, plus the tendons that attach them to bones, that help move and stabilize the neck, as well as a number of ligaments attaching bones to each other. That’s a lot of action in a comparatively small area.  

Several More Specific Red Flags For Neck Pain: A Checklist

Check all that apply. Most people will not be able to check many of these! But the more you can check, the more worthwhile it is to ask your doctor if it’s possible that there’s something more serious going on than just neck pain. Most people who check off an item or two will turn out not to have an ominous health issue. But red flags are reasons to check… not reasons to worry.

A Tear In One Of The Main Arteries Of The Neck Is A Rare Cause Of Stroke

You probably don’t give much thought to your neck, unless something goes wrong and you start to feel neck pain.. This underappreciated body part has to be strong enough to support a heavy weight yet still allow you to tilt, turn, and nod your head easily.

Most of the time, neck pain doesn’t signal a serious medical problem. But it’s worth learning about one of the rare exceptions: a tear in one of the arteries of the neck, known as a cervical artery dissection . Although these occur in only about two in 100,000 people per year, they are one of the most common causes of stroke in people under age 50.

“Over the past two decades, awareness of cervical artery dissection has grown tremendously,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. This may stem in part from the recognition that stroke rates seem to be rising among younger people, despite an overall downward trend in deaths caused by stroke.

More articles

Popular Articles