Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture — whether it's leaning into your computer at work or hunching over your workbench at home. Wear-and-tear arthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
Rarely, neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Seek medical care if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands or if you're experiencing shooting pain into your shoulder or down your arm.
Give your doctor as many specifics as you can about the location and severity of your pain. Be sure to mention any head or neck movements that make your neck pain better or worse.
Neck pain can result from a variety of causes, including:
Preparing for your appointment
While you may initially consult your family doctor about your neck pain, he or she may refer you to:
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
During the physical exam, your doctor will check for tenderness, numbness and muscle weakness. He or she will also ask you to move your head as far as it can go forward, backward and side to side.
However, many people have X-ray or MRI evidence of structural problems in their neck without experiencing any symptoms. So it can be difficult to determine if your symptoms are actually being caused by what shows up on imaging studies.
Treatments and drugs
The most common types of neck pain usually respond well to home care. If neck pain persists, your doctor may recommend other treatments.
Surgical and other procedures
Lifestyle and home remedies
Self-care measures you can try at home to relieve neck pain include:
Talk to your doctor if you're interested in trying alternative treatments for your neck pain. Your doctor can discuss the benefits and risks. Alternative treatments include:
Most neck pain is associated with poor posture on top of age-related wear and tear. To help prevent neck pain, keep your head centered over your spine, so gravity works with your neck instead of against it. Some simple changes in your daily routine may help. Consider trying to:
Last Updated: 2012-09-11
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