Neck pain

neck pain symptoms

There is no adult who has never felt neck pain in his life. Every fourth woman and every sixth man experience it constantly. A sedentary lifestyle and time spent in front of the computer aggravate the problem. Neck pain can occur due to arthrosis of the shoulder joint and any other disease in this area, the upper back and arms, or the back of the head. In this article, you can learn everything about neck pain and how to get rid of it.

Causes of neck pain

The most common causes are the following diseases:

  • Cervical osteochondrosis, complicated by protrusion or herniation of the intervertebral discs. The most common and important cause of neck pain. The pain is associated with pinching of the spinal nerve roots due to partially or completely destroyed intervertebral discs. The pain is very strong, appears suddenly, can be localized only in the neck (one or both sides), or can radiate to other areas - to the head, the back of the head, the arm, the back, under the shoulder blade, etc. The treatment consists of pain therapy, restoration of the cartilage tissue of the discs and strengthening of the neck muscles. Sometimes such patients seek the help of a neurosurgeon to remove the destroyed disc.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (rheumatoid spondylitis, ankylosing spondylitis) is an autoimmune inflammatory process in the joints of the cervical spine. The disease usually develops gradually, imperceptibly, and spreads along the spine from the bottom up. The neck region is the last to be affected. It manifests itself as neck pain and movement stiffness, which goes away after starting physical activity. Over time, the pain increases and the spine becomes immobile. Long-term treatment with a rheumatologist helps.
  • Arthrosis of the facet joints of the cervical spine (uncovertebral arthrosis). In this case, the cause of pain in the neck and back of the head is degenerative-dystrophic changes in the small joints connecting the cervical vertebrae. Often of professional origin, it develops during stationary work, with the head down or under strain, or after injuries. Symptoms: pain at the site of the lesion, radiating to the shoulder and crunching when moving, occasionally headache, dizziness, high or low blood pressure, hearing loss. Treatment by neurologist and rheumatologist.
  • Torticollis is a change in the position of the neck that prevents the head from turning and other movements. It can be congenital (in children) and acquired (in adults) after injuries, against the background of rough skin scars, permanent spasm of the neck and occipital muscles during degenerative-dystrophic and inflammatory processes of the spine and surrounding soft tissues. Symptoms: tilting of the head and raised shoulder on the affected side, pain in the neck and back of the head when trying to tilt the head in the opposite direction. The pain increases with physical activity and stress. The treatment can be conservative (in case of convulsions) or surgical, performed by a surgeon or orthopedic traumatologist.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) involves irritation of the nerve endings in the muscles, leading to spasms and pain.

Clinical anatomy of the neck

neck anatomy

In the case of degenerative-dystrophic diseases of the spine, as well as arthritis between the individual vertebrae, bone growths or swollen soft tissues can compress the vertebral artery, which leads to impaired blood supply to the brain, headaches and dizziness. . The pain can also be the result of compression of the spinal roots extending from the spinal cord. Along the brachial nerve plexus, such pain radiates to the arm.

First aid for neck pain - what to do

Neck pain may increase gradually, but sometimes it occurs acutely, suddenly in the form of lumbago, with irradiation of other areas. It is hard to bear such suffering. What to do, how to get rid of them?

Tablets and ointments for neck pain

Emergency self-help algorithm:

  • Take a sedative - panic only aggravates the situation; you can take: 20 drops of sedative drops or tablets with a solution of levomenthol in menthyl isovalerate under the tongue; these drugs not only relax, but also dilate blood vessels, which in turn helps reduce muscle spasm and associated pain; You can take 1-2 tablets of valerian extract or any other sedative you have on hand.
  • Take a pain reliever (optional).
  • To eliminate the aching pain, you can use external pain relievers: ointments, gels, plasters.

Exercises for neck pain

If the pain is not too strong, aching, and coupled with stiffness, you can try to get rid of it with the help of exercises. It must be performed smoothly, without sudden movements. An approximate set of pain-relieving exercises:

  • initial position (IP) – lying on your back, head on a flat pillow; Press your head firmly against the pillow and hold it for a count of 5; pause and repeat; do 5-7 approaches;
  • IP - lying on the left side, head on a flat pillow; raise your head and hold in this position for 5; take a short break, then at least five approaches;
  • IP - lying on its side on the right side; repeat the previous exercise on the right side;
  • IP - lying on the stomach, hands clasped behind the head; raise your head, resist with your hands; each approach - 5 seconds with a short break, repeat 5-7 times.

Contraindicated for relief of severe acute pain with exercises.

In such cases, it is better to keep the neck still, for example with the help of a Shants collar. But prolonged immobilization leads to weakening of the ligament and worsening of the situation. Therefore, the Shants collar can be used to reduce pain before seeking medical attention. The duration of immobilization can only be determined by a specialist.

After the complete or partial elimination of the pain syndrome, it is necessary to consult a doctor, otherwise it will return and it will be quite difficult to relieve it.

Exercises for neck pain

exercises for neck pain

What not to do if you have neck pain

If your neck often hurts, remember that you should not:

  • in a forced position for a long time, with a tense neck - a painful muscle spasm develops;
  • lift weights, do heavy work - microtrauma occurs on the spine with nearby tissues, gradual destruction of cartilage and bone structures;
  • they are often exposed to stress - they are accompanied by vascular spasms, which negatively affects blood circulation and the condition of the spine;
  • smoking, frequent alcohol consumption - contributes to permanent vasoconstriction;
  • hypothermia - muscles located near the spine become inflamed, myositis develops;
  • sleeping on a high soft pillow means staying in an uncomfortable static position for a long time;
  • suddenly turns the head - a sudden pinching of the nerve and the appearance of severe pain is possible.

When you need to see a doctor urgently

Do not hesitate to seek medical help if:

  • neck pain occurs regularly and is not always completely relieved by painkillers;
  • you have experienced a painful attack for the first time or several times, when any movement causes severe suffering;
  • the pain syndrome is accompanied by general disorders: fever, chills, etc. ;
  • suddenly acute, short-term pain appeared in the left neck, radiating to the arm, shoulder blade or back of the head - a sign of acute myocardial circulatory disorder (anginal attack);
  • sudden headache and dizziness appeared, sometimes with loss of consciousness - a sign of compression of the vertebral artery.

If such symptoms appear, there is no point in treating yourself: it will only make the problem worse. No amount of folk remedies or grandmother's advice will help.

Only a doctor can help relieve pain by developing an individual treatment plan based on examination and accurate diagnosis. If you are in doubt about which doctor to see, go to a therapist who understands the situation and will refer you to another specialist if necessary.

Types of neck pain and their treatment

The pain syndrome can manifest itself in several ways: only on one side of the neck or everywhere, locally or radiating to other parts of the body. Let's try to figure out what the appearance of pain indicates and what to do in each case.

Severe neck pain caused by coronavirus and ARVI

Any viral infection can be accompanied by neck pain. The reason for this is poisoning caused by an infectious agent. Once the person recovers, these symptoms will go away.

However, in some people, a few days or weeks after the virus infection, the pain syndrome appears again, sometimes accompanied by swelling of the spine and movement stiffness (difficulty turning the head to the side) in the morning.

This condition requires immediate investigation as it may be associated with autoimmune processes in the facet joints of the spine.

The coronavirus infection has a serious effect on the immune system, causing various disturbances in its functioning. If a person is prone to an autoimmune process (close relatives with such diseases), it is very likely that a viral infection serves as a starting point (trigger) for its development. What to do: consult a therapist or rheumatologist.

Severe neck pain and fever

temperature with neck pain

If severe pain suddenly appears in the neck and is accompanied by fever, then this indicates the presence of an acute inflammatory process:

  • aggravation of a viral infection or some chronic inflammatory process (bronchitis, sinusitis, etc. ) - in this case, the disease is accompanied by chronic symptoms - cough and runny nose; what to do: if the pain is not too strong and the temperature is not high, you can wait to see a doctor; persistence of pain after recovery is a reason to consult a doctor;
  • bacterial purulent inflammatory processes - abscesses, phlegmons; what to do: consult a surgeon, as the symptoms can only be eliminated by surgery;
  • autoimmune process in the joints of the cervical spine; the first symptoms appear a few days or weeks after the acute inflammatory process, there are no catarrhal symptoms; what to do: see a doctor immediately; self-medication is contraindicated.

Severe pain in the neck that radiates to the head

Sometimes there is an acute, sudden pain in the neck in the spinal region that radiates to the head (cervicocranalgia), which is accompanied by pinching of the spinal roots extending from the 1st and 2nd cervical vertebrae (C1-C2) and the pain spreads to the trigeminal nerve. , whose nuclei are located in the upper sections of the spinal cord. This is the so-called radicular pain syndrome, which can be very strong and quite long-lasting. What to do: as self-help, you can take a pain-relieving tablet and apply an anesthetic patch to the painful area.

If the pain does not go away, call an ambulance, the doctor can temporarily eliminate the pain. But after their removal, you must definitely consult a neurologist.

Aching pain in the neck and back of the head may be the result of compression of the vertebra of the artery. In such cases, it is often accompanied by dizziness and fainting, because the brain suffers from a lack of oxygen.

Similar pain can occur with high blood pressure (BP). The attack is accompanied by nausea and vomiting. What to do: pain in the back of the neck and head is dangerous, so if they appear, you should call an ambulance.

Neck and shoulders hurt

Aching pain in the neck can radiate to the shoulders. Neck and shoulder pain is usually associated with spasms and muscle tension when the neurovascular bundle between the scalene muscles is compressed. Morning stiffness appears, due to the constant aching pain, the head is in a forced position: it tilts slightly forward and towards the affected side. If a blood vessel is compressed, dizziness, darkening of the eyes, and fainting may occur. Irradiation of pain from the neck to the shoulder is also characteristic of osteochondrosis and arthrosis of the facet joints of the 5-6 vertebrae (C5-C6). When the pathological focus is localized in C5, the pain radiates along the anterior outer surface of the shoulder, so the patient cannot move the arm to the side.

What to do: you cannot tolerate such symptoms, you cannot cure them on your own, you should consult a neurologist.

Neck pain on the right or left side

If your neck hurts on one side:

  • very strong sudden attack– a sign of damage to the spinal roots on the right or left side; A lidocaine patch can help, but this is a temporary measure, a neurologist should be consulted;
  • sudden paroxysmal short but sharp pain in the left neck– may be a symptom of angina pectoris; if such symptoms recur, you should seek help from a therapist or cardiologist;
  • aching pain on the left or right side- often develops in a prolonged tense head position due to spasm of the neck muscles; Use pain-relieving ointments and plasters to relieve spasms; When painful muscle spasms appear, you should watch your posture and avoid work in which the head is in a statically tense position for a long time.

What to do: if you have constant or regularly recurring pain on the right or left side of the neck, it is better to consult a therapist.

Severe back and neck pain

neck pain due to osteochondrosis

Painful sensations in the back that spread to the neck are usually the result of osteochondrosis of the cervical thoracic spine. The gradual destruction of the cartilaginous intervertebral cushion - the disc - occurs. The disc thins, ruptures, and can partially or completely protrude beyond the spinal column, compressing the nerve roots, which is accompanied by severe back pain radiating to the neck. Painful sensations are aggravated by spasms in the muscles of the back and neck.

If C6 is affected, neck pain radiates to the shoulder blade, shoulder girdle, shoulder, forearm and 1 finger. At the same time, muscle strength decreases and hand movements require additional effort. Damage to C7 - pain waves are transmitted to the shoulder blade, the back of the hand, the index and middle fingers. Symptoms of damage to C8 - possible radiation of pain along the back inner surface of the hand to the little finger.

What to do: take an oral anesthetic and apply an anesthetic gel to the skin to relieve the pain. After the pain subsides, consult a neurologist.

Such pain in the back of the neck can also occur in case of scoliosis - lateral curvature of the spine. Scoliosis can lead to pinching and compression of the vertebrae, pinched nerves and constant aching back pain. What to do: the treatment is carried out by an orthopedic traumatologist.

Severe neck pain with radiation

Sometimes neck pain spreads to other areas. These are so-called referred pains, in which the pain impulses from the main focus spread along the nerve fibers connecting individual body parts and internal organs.

Painful waves may radiate:

in ear -painful sensations have different origins; they are most often related to:

  1. with inflammatory diseases of the ENT organs - sore throat, chronic tonsillitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis; this is usually a sore throat and ears, accompanied by symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough; in chronic inflammatory processes, the disease is not so acute, without fever, the pain is moderate;
  2. with degenerative-dystrophic diseases of the cervical spine (osteochondrosis) and its consequences - protrusion and disc herniation; neck pain syndrome is associated with pinching of the spinal roots, caused by a disc protruding beyond the spinal column or by overgrown bone tissue of the vertebrae; ear pain associated with osteochondrosis is a sign of compression of the nerve root of the 3rd cervical vertebra (C3);
  3. in case of arthritis (inflammation) or arthrosis (metabolic disorders) in the C3-C4 facet joints connecting the cervical vertebrae;

In the teeth -painful radiation in the teeth:

  1. usually associated with osteochondrosis - damage to the C3-C4 vertebrae;
  2. have a reflective character; this is due to dental problems: deep caries of the teeth of the lateral part of the upper jaw and periodontitis; various bad blockages; the pain can radiate from the oral cavity to the neck, there is often a feeling that the neck hurts, it radiates to the teeth on the right or left side; what to do: treat or remove damaged teeth, restore the bite; reflected pain syndrome can be associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthritis or arthrosis - your teeth seem to hurt and the pain radiates to your neck;

In the eyes -if the upper cervical vertebrae are affected (osteochondrosis, arthritis or arthrosis of the facet joints), pain along the sensitive branches of the cervical nerves may radiate to the eyes or the tissues around the eyeball;

In the church -often a sign of cervical osteochondrosis or TMJ arthrosis (arthritis);

In your hands -with cervical osteochondrosis or arthritis (arthrosis) of the C6-C8 joints, as well as spasm of the neck muscles;

In the shoulder blade &ndah;damage to C6-C7 and glenohumeral periarthritis;

Into the clavicle -a pain syndrome may develop after a clavicle injury and spread along the brachial plexus nerve fibers to the neck, as well as in case of arthritis or arthrosis of the shoulder joint.

When pain waves radiate to other organs and tissues, it is difficult for the patient to figure out what hurts and which specialist to turn to. Therefore, it is best to start with a therapist who can figure out where to refer the patient next.

Severe pain in the neck muscles

Pain in the neck muscles is usually associated with various injuries and diseases of the spine, but it can also manifest itself as an independent disease - myofascial pain syndrome.

What to do: the treatment can also be started by a neurologist, but a rheumatologist consultation may also be necessary.

The back of the neck hurts a lot

Pain in the back of the head and neck is most often associated with cervical osteochondrosis and pathology of the facet joints of the cervical vertebrae. This is accompanied by a painful spasm of the neck muscles.

What to do: it is better to consult a neurologist, or perhaps refer the patient to a rheumatologist after the examination.

Pain in the front of the neck in the area of the larynx

Painful sensations in the anterior neck region, combined with swallowing disorders, may occur with the growth of thyroid tissue (inflammatory process, goiter). However, external growth is not always noticeable, as the goiter can grow behind the sternum.

What to do: consult an endocrinologist urgently.

The larynx can hurt due to acute and chronic diseases of the ENT organs. Such diseases are accompanied by cough, sore throat and sometimes an increase in body temperature. Laryngitis is especially dangerous, accompanied by pain, a barking cough and the risk of swelling of the larynx.

What to do: contact a therapist or otolaryngologist.

Neck pain when turning or bending

Myofascial pain syndrome with reflection in the area of the ear and eyeball when turning

myofascial pain syndrome

Painful turns and tilts of the head can be the result of:

  • osteochondrosis and damage to the roots of the spine; the pain syndrome is severe and sudden, it is almost impossible to turn or tilt the head; what to do: consult a neurologist urgently;
  • acute neck injury or prolonged microtrauma; in the absence of bone changes (fractures, dislocations), the pain syndrome is associated with spasms and subsequent inflammation of the neck muscles; what to do: seek help from a neurologist;
  • curvature of the spine - scoliosis; the pain is aching in nature and increases when bending the neck; what to do: contact an orthopedic traumatologist.

Neck pain after sleep

As a rule, such pains rarely appear out of nowhere, they are more often associated with hidden diseases of the spine or neck muscles. After sleeping, they appear with prolonged incorrect position of the head, which leads to compression of blood vessels and nerves. After sleeping, this manifests as aching pain, numbness and restricted movement. After a while it goes away.

What to do: consult a neurologist and make sure that you do not have a serious pathology.

Severe pain and cracking in the neck

Neck pain accompanied by cracking can be caused by osteochondrosis, arthrosis of the facet joints or increased mobility of the cervical vertebrae. In any case, this is a sign of a pathological process, which can only be determined after examination.

What to do: consult a neurologist, but you may also need the help of other specialists.

Treatment of diseases causing neck pain

There are painkillers for temporary relief of pain, but in order to completely relieve the patient from suffering, the doctor must conduct an examination and find out the cause of the pain. The patient cannot do this alone, he has to go to the clinic.


diagnosis of neck pain

Clinical examination of the neck - the first stage of diagnosis

At the initial time, the doctor performs a clinical examination of the patient and, based on the results, may prescribe the following additional examinations:

  • Laboratory tests– general clinical, biochemical and immunological blood tests. The obtained data make it possible to identify inflammatory, metabolic and autoimmune processes.
  • Instrumental diagnostic methods:If necessary, X-ray of the affected part of the spine- shoulder joint;Ultrasound of soft tissues;MRI or CT scan– a more detailed examination of the neck region;electroneurmyography- to assess the condition of the spinal nerve roots.

After the examination, the doctor can make a correct diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

Methods for treating neck pain

Treatment of neck pain syndrome can only be individual, as it depends on the identified disorders and the final diagnosis. Concomitant diagnoses - the presence of various other diseases in the patient - should also be taken into account.

massage for neck pain

The combination of modern and traditional Eastern techniques allows the patient to immediately relieve acute pain.

This gives back the hope of a normal life, even for patients suffering from long-term severe pain syndrome. After the course, they regularly come to the clinic for preventive treatment, which allows them to completely get rid of pain and lead a normal life. Contact the medical center, the doctors will surely help!