Neck pain is a very common issue. Poor posture at work and in front of the computer can cause the neck to ache on a regular basis. In some cases, arthritis may be a source of this pain. Other causes of neck pain include injuries, nerve compression, worn joints, muscle strain or disease.
Most neck pain responds to care at home with over-the-counter medication, rest, heat and cold, and basic stretching and exercise.
If you experience loss of strength in your arms or hands or shooting pains in your shoulders and arms along with your neck pain, this may be a sign of a more serious issue.
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Neck Pain That Shoots Down the Arm
Neck pain that radiates down the arm (and is sometimes felt in the hands or fingers) may be caused by a cervical herniated disc. It is also possible that foraminal stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the spine in the neck area, is pinching a nerve and causing the neck pain. People with these conditions may experience numbness or tingling in the hands or arms. These symptoms may appear suddenly or gradually.
Neck Pain Related to Regular Activities or Postures
In some cases, neck pain gradually develops over a period of years due to some repeated activity like office work or long-distance driving. This can also result in degenerative Disc and/or Arthristis in the joints of neck. This can be diagnosed by various imagining studies (CT, XRAY or MRI).
Persistent Fluctuating Neck Pain
If you experience neck pain that is usually minor but occasionally gets worse and becomes severe, especially during certain activities and positions, this may indicate symptomatic cervical disc degeneration. Cervical disc degeneration itself becomes very common as people age, but often without any symptoms. There can, however, be an injury that causes symptomatic pain to occur and persist. This can be related to frequent use of certain body parts, such as frequent use of the neck, arms and shoulders.
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Neck Pain that Dissipates During the Day
Some people experience neck pain and discomfort in the morning and at night but the movements of their daily routine alleviate this pain. They may also tend to feel more comfortable on sunny, warm days versus rainy, cloudy days. This may be a sign of cervical osteoarthritis or neck arthritis.
How Do I Get Rid of My Neck Pain?
Neck pain can be acute or chronic and may have a variety of potential causes. For this reason, treatments for neck pain cover a broad range of options. People who experience an acute strain often address their issues completely with home care, including rest or over-the-counter medication. Those who experience more chronic neck pain may benefit from regular stretching, physical therapy, spinal manipulation or the use of a soft cervical collar to support the neck. Cervical pain that does not respond to these treatments can still be addressed with injections or spine surgery. View our treatments page for more information about spine surgery and alternative treatments.