Information for Patients
Neck Injuries and Disorders
Any part of your neck - muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerves - can cause neck problems. Neck pain is very common. Pain may also come from your shoulder, jaw, head, or upper arms.
Muscle strain or tension often causes neck pain. The problem is usually overuse, such as from sitting at a computer for too long. Sometimes you can strain your neck muscles from sleeping in an awkward position or overdoing it during exercise. Falls or accidents, including car accidents, are another common cause of neck pain. Whiplash, a soft tissue injury to the neck, is also called neck sprain or strain.
Treatment depends on the cause, but may include applying ice, taking pain relievers, getting physical therapy or wearing a cervical collar. You rarely need surgery.
Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and allows you to stand and bend. Spinal stenosis causes narrowing in your spine. The narrowing puts pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain.
Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal are also at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can cause spinal stenosis, too. Symptoms might appear gradually or not at all. They include
- Pain in your neck or back
- Numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in your arms or legs
- Pain going down the leg
- Foot problems
Doctors diagnose spinal stenosis with a physical exam and imaging tests. Treatments include medications, physical therapy, braces, and surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases