Neck pain is a common complaint. Most causes of neck pain aren't serious. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture — whether it's leaning into your computer at work or hunching over your workbench doing hobbies at home. Wear-and-tear arthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
But sometimes neck pain can signify something more serious. Seek immediate medical care if you experience:
The precise location and severity of your neck pain provides important clues in determining what might be causing it. Make sure to tell your doctor if any head or neck movements make your neck pain better or worse.
When to see a doctor
Neck pain can result from a variety of causes, ranging from overuse injuries and whiplash to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and meningitis.
A variety of factors can cause neck pain, including poor posture, muscle strains, narrowed disk spaces, herniated disks and pinched nerves. ...
Risk factors for neck pain include:
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
Your doctor often will be able to diagnose the cause of your neck pain and recommend treatment just by asking questions about the type, location and onset of your pain. In some instances, however, imaging tests, nerve tests or lab tests may be warranted.
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: 2010-02-17
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