Neck pain

What is neck pain?

  • Pain in the neck can be due to: injury, a mechanical or muscular problem, a trapped nerve caused by a bulge in one of the discs between the vertebrae or from arthritis of the neck.
  • It can range from mild discomfort to severe, burning pain.
  • If the pain is ‘acute’ – sudden and intense – it’s often related to a wry neck (torticollis), facet syndrome or muscular rheumatism.
  • If the pain has lasted more than three months, it’s termed ‘chronic’ neck pain.
  • Neck pain is a common condition and is more frequently seen in women than men.
  • Most people will experience pain in the neck at some point in their life.

What causes neck pain?

Many things can trigger neck pain. These include:

  • Trauma or injury
  • Worry and stress
  • Falling asleep in an awkward position
  • Prolonged use of a computer keyboard.

There are several theories about why so many people suffer neck pain, but they are not supported by scientific proof. For many people with neck pain, no absolutely specific reason for the pain can be found.

But in a significant minority of cases, it’s possible to make a more precise diagnosis. The underlying problem could be a slipped disc, brittle bones (osteoporosis), deformed natural curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and, very rarely, structural damage due to tumors or infection.

Finally, road traffic accidents involving whiplash injury may result in acute or chronic neck pain that takes several months to improve.

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