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Neck Pain

What’s neck pain?

Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones.

The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.

Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In many cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. Sometimes, neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash.

Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a serious condition and can be relieved within a few days.

But in some cases, neck pain can indicate serious injury or illness and require a doctor’s care.

How neck pain is treated

Treatment for neck pain depends on the diagnosis. In addition to a thorough history and physical exam by your doctor, you may also need one or more of the following imaging studies and tests to help your doctor determine the cause of your neck pain:

  • blood tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • electromyography, which allows your doctor to check the health of your muscles and the nerves that control your muscles
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

When to see your doctor

 

  • severe neck pain without apparent cause
  • lump in your neck
  • fever
  • headache
  • swollen glands
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • weakness
  • numbness