Pain in the neck

The symptoms of neck pain are familiar to everyone: it pulls the muscles, it is impossible to tilt and turn the head, and to look to the side, you have to turn the whole body. The culprit of the problems, as a rule, is the spine: infringements, hernias and scoliosis lead to the fact that a person experiences pain in the back and neck. Discomfort makes you self-medicate. But if the pain radiating to the neck does not go away after home therapy, the next step is to visit the doctor.

Neck pain in adults

Neck pain in women

neck pain in a young woman

Neck pain during pregnancy.

Back and neck pain often worries pregnant women. The explanation is simple: with a change in the weight and proportions of the body, the posture changes, the load on the spine increases.

How to deal with this annoyance? A special maternity bandage will help keep your back in the correct position. To strengthen the muscles of the back and neck, it is useful to swim and do yoga (of course, with the permission of an obstetrician-gynecologist). You need to sleep in a comfortable position, on a hard mattress and a low pillow. But the most important thing is to consult a doctor, since any self-medication can negatively affect the condition of the mother and the fetus.

Neck pain in young mothers

Back and neck pain is common among young mothers. The matter is complicated by the fact that a woman during lactation can not use many drugs, because harmful substances will pass into the milk. How to help yourself and prevent pain in the neck area from interfering with the joy of the baby?

  • Check your posture. While carrying a child, the center of gravity moved with an increase in the abdomen: she had to lean back for balance and her shoulders were tense all the time.
  • Do not physically overexert yourself, try to properly distribute the load on your back. Various transport devices can help with this. They distribute the weight of the child on both shoulders and prevent back and neck fatigue.
  • Baby care items should be adjusted according to her height so as not to stand for a long time in an awkward position.
  • It is very important to be in a comfortable position while breastfeeding, especially at night.

Neck pain in men

neck pain in men

Neck pain, as a rule, does not differ by gender; it can appear in both men and women. And yet there are some differences in anatomy: the male neck is decorated with a pronounced Adam's apple, a thickening of the thyroid cartilage, the plates of which are located at an angle to each other.

Pain in the Adam's apple in men can indicate a rather serious disease:

  • Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. With thyroiditis, patients are concerned about pain in the neck when turning, pain in the Adam's apple, up and down, swelling of the neck.
  • Cancer of the thyroid cartilage - its danger lies in the fact that the onset of the disease can be similar to a common cold: sore throat when swallowing, it is difficult to turn the neck and even breathe.
  • Thyroid cartilage phlegmon is an extensive suppuration of the cartilage and soft tissues of the neck, which is life-threatening. Patients complain of chills and high fever, pain when swallowing, loss of voice, shortness of breath.
  • Cartilage tuberculosis occurs, as a rule, with existing pulmonary tuberculosis and is its complication.
  • Kadik may be ill due to osteochondrosis. The infringement causes pain when swallowing, sneezing and coughing.
  • Fractures, bruises, and cartilage compression can lead to displacement, neck swelling, and suffocation.

Neck pain in the elderly

Pain radiating to the neck, in older people, may indicate the development of diseases:

  • Cancer of the apex of the lung (cancer with Pancost and Horner syndrome). The patient's pain in this case is associated with tumor growth in the nerve endings of the shoulder girdle and neck.
  • Neck tumors, salivary glands.
  • Coronary heart disease. The pain can spread from the chest to the neck and arms, causing symptoms similar to osteochondrosis.
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder characterized by stiffness and pain in the muscles of the shoulder girdle and hips.
  • Spinal metastases in various oncological diseases (it is no secret that the probability of getting cancer increases with age).
  • Subluxation of the cervical vertebra as a complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The most common causes of neck and neck pain in the elderly are osteoarthritis and osteochondrosis of the spine, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic inflammation of the connective tissue.

Neck pain in children

neck pain in children

Severe neck pain in children occurs for the same reasons as in adults:

  • Trauma
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Tumors
  • Diseases of other organs that cause distant pain.

Perhaps the most specific "infantile" cause of neck pain is torticollis, when the child's head turns sharply to one side. Torticollis is dangerous because it leads to curvature of the cervical spine and alters the formation of the skeleton of the face.

Contrary to popular belief, the disease does not only occur during childbirth. Depending on how torticollis appeared, the following types are distinguished:

  1. Congenital: It can happen in the uterus if the fetus is not positioned correctly, but it most often occurs during delivery, when the baby turns his head to the side and injures the muscles of the neck.
  2. Dermatogenous: when the neck is twisted by the scars left by trauma or burns.
  3. Reflex: occurs with lesions, otitis media, diseases of the salivary gland.
  4. Neurogenic: due to muscle spasms after polio or encephalitis.
  5. Spastic: due to excessive tension of the cervical muscles.
  6. Traumatic: associated with a fracture of the spine.

Torticollis (with the exception of dermatogens and neurogens) is usually observed in newborns or manifests in the first months. The greatest risk of its occurrence arises when:

  • The fetus during natural childbirth is in breech presentation.
  • The location of the fetus in the mother's abdomen is such that the wall of the uterus presses on the neck.
  • Labor is difficult and the baby's mastoid muscle is damaged (with the formation of a scar).
  • Forceps and a suction cup are necessary for difficult labor.
  • The mastoid muscle becomes inflamed during intrauterine development, as a result of which the muscle tissue was replaced by fibrous tissue in the area of inflammation.
  • The mastoid muscle is pathologically hypertrophied and shortened.
  • With caesarean section.

How can torticollis be cured?

  • The conservative method is with the help of a massage and physiotherapy course, a special orthopedic hairstyle of the baby's head, the use of an orthopedic collar and gymnastic exercises.
  • Operation: performed if conservative methods have failed. During the operation, the surgeon lengthens the sternocleidomastoid muscle and straightens the position of the child's head.

Different types of neck pain.

Sharp neck pain

neck pain from sedentary work

Why is there a sharp pain in the neck? There are two reasons:

  • Trauma (fracture, blow, contusion).
  • Infringement of nerve endings - this is the case with osteochondrosis, herniated intervertebral discs, compression of the spinal canal.

Treatment for pain depends on the cause and includes:

  • Prescribe pain relievers.
  • Muscle relaxants and antispasmodics to relieve muscle spasms.
  • Immobilization (immobilization) of the cervical spine.
  • Exercise therapy and physical therapy.

Severe neck pain

Severe neck pain is always unpleasant. I would like to quickly find out why it hurts and recover. What are the causes of severe pain?

  • Exacerbation of osteochondrosis, when an unsuccessful movement, rotation or shock of the body causes displacement of the vertebrae, infringement of an existing hernia, compression of the spinal nerves.
  • Cervical radiculitis (inflammation and pinching of the spinal roots).
  • Cervicago - "lumbago" (acute and severe muscle spasm).
  • Severe back and neck pain can occur after an injury.

Neck pain with osteochondrosis.

Neck pain with osteochondrosis is very severe and gives the patient many unpleasant minutes. As a result of muscle spasm or the displacement of the vertebrae relative to each other, the arteries supplying the brain can become pinched or twisted. In the most severe cases, this can lead to a condition similar to a previous stroke, when a person is dizzy, everything floats before their eyes, sometimes speech and vision are lost.

Neck pain left

neck pain on the left side

Neck pain on the left is a possible symptom of problems not only in the cervical spine, but also outside of it. What can a person have if they have neck pain on the left side?

  • Heart disease (heart attack, coronary artery disease, angina pectoris).
  • Cancer of the upper left lung.
  • Injuries
  • Metastasis of tumors from other organs to the nodes on the left side of the neck.
  • Infectious inflammation of the lymph nodes (due to tonsillitis, ARVI, tonsillitis).

Neck pain on the right

Pain in the neck on the right is an alarming symptom, but most often it is explained in a banal way - a person has osteochondrosis with all the consequent consequences. Such consequences include nerve entrapment, muscle spasms, intervertebral protrusion and hernia, vascular disorders.

But there are other causes of neck pain on the right:

  • Biliary colic radiating to the neck and shoulder.
  • Apical lung cancer of the right side with tumor invasion to the nerves located above.
  • Contusions, injuries, clavicle and vertebra fractures.
  • Tumors of the cervical spine (metastasis of other organs).
  • If the pain is concentrated in the right front of the neck, it may also indicate heart problems (heart attack, coronary artery disease).
  • Swollen lymph nodes due to ARVI and a sore throat.

Neck and shoulder pain

neck and shoulder pain

Pain in the neck and shoulders is a classic sign of cervical osteochondrosis and its accompanying complications (infringement of the hernia, nerves, trunk of the spinal cord). Also, simultaneous pain in the neck and shoulders is a symptom of such diseases:

  • Gallstone disease during exacerbation, with biliary colic.
  • Heart diseases.
  • Shoulder osteoarthritis.
  • Cervical plexitis is an inflammation of the large nerve nodes of the spinal nerves.
  • Periarthritis of the shoulder and scapula: inflammation of the shoulder tendons and capsules of the shoulder joints.
  • Myositis
  • Arthritis.

Neck and back pain

Pain in the neck and lower back, as a rule, is a sign of generalized osteochondrosis, which has invaded the entire spine. After all, it does not happen that the posture in one part of the spine is good and the other bad. With osteochondrosis, neck pain is mild when the disease is in remission and strong, painful if it has worsened. The exacerbation begins with a sharp pain in the neck and back with unsuccessful twisting, movement and impact. It can be removed with the help of prescription drugs, rest, light heat to the affected area, exercise therapy, and physical therapy.

Neck and nape pain

Pain in the neck and back of the head is usually a symptom of a banal cervical osteochondrosis - a dangerous, but not fatal disease. But sometimes it indicates meningitis and this disease represents a threat to human life. The causative agents of meningitis (bacteria and viruses) invade the brain and spinal cord and cause inflammation of their membranes.

Numbness, pain in the neck and back of the head, stiffness of the occipital muscles, inability to simultaneously pull the head towards the chest, bending the leg at the knee - these are all meningeal symptoms that will immediately alert the doctor . Treatment of a dangerous disease is carried out in a hospital,

In addition to meningitis and osteochondrosis, the cause of pain in the neck and back of the head can be injuries, neuralgia of the occipital nerve, hypertension and muscle strain.

Causes and symptoms of neck pain


neck pain due to sports injuries

The cause of pain in the neck sometimes becomes an injury, due to which the cervical vertebrae are displaced or broken, the spinal nerves are damaged. Injuries can occur from accidents, falls, injuries, poor immersion, or sudden movements. Symptoms of a neck injury include:

  • Incorrect neck flexion, inability to turn the head, chest, and tension of the neck muscles indicate a fracture of the lower vertebrae.
  • Pain in the crown and back of the head is an indicator that the first cervical vertebra is damaged.
  • Swelling and "bruising" can be the result of a neck injury.
  • Pain in the neck when turning the head, in the shoulders, upper chest, headaches are a symptom of whiplash injury, which occurs due to the alternation of sharp flexion and extension of the neck (this can happen when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop).


neck pain in a man due to a tumor

An extremely dangerous cause of neck pain is a malignancy. How can it be?

  • Neck pain as a symptom of a tumor in the upper part of the lung. Bundles of nerves and blood vessels sprout, causing severe pain. A person may be bothered by neck pain on the left or right, depending on the location of the tumor.
  • A symptom of neck pain sometimes indicates the development of lymphoma - cancer of the lymph nodes. Since many lymph nodes are concentrated in the neck, they grow with the progression of the disease and it is difficult not to notice it. Other prominent signs of lymphoma are excessive sweating, seemingly unreasonable fever, and weight loss.
  • Salivary gland cancer is a tumor that affects the salivary glands behind the ears, on the side of the neck, and on the roof of the mouth. At an early stage, it is painless, you can only sometimes notice seals on the affected glands.
  • A tumor of the larynx grows on its walls, visually represents a tuberous neoplasm. It is difficult to notice them during a routine examination, therefore, cancer, unfortunately, is diagnosed at a late stage, when other manifestations become evident: sensation of a foreign body in the throat, hoarseness and nasalness of the voice, difficulty in breathe through your nose. A laryngeal tumor is also dangerous because it is prone to the early appearance of metastases, which greatly worsens the prognosis for recovery of the patient.
  • Thyroid cancer presents with nodular lumps, pain in the front of the neck, and voice changes.
  • In cancer of the cartilage of the thyroid gland, patients complain of difficulty swallowing and moving food in the larynx, a sensation of a foreign body, or a lump in the throat.

Pain reflected in diseases of other organs.

Pain radiating to the neck does not always indicate that the problem is in the neck itself. Sometimes it hurts due to poor health of other organs, and then the pain is called reflected. What diseases can cause it?

  • Cardiac (ischemic heart disease, heart attack, angina pectoris) - are accompanied by attacks, when the pain radiates to the shoulders, neck, and sometimes to the arm.
  • Pain in the neck on the right, under the right scapula and in the right shoulder occurs during an attack of biliary colic with stones in the gallbladder.
  • Diseases of the esophagus (reflux, erosion, ulcer).
  • Oncological diseases (lymphoma, tumor metastases) are the cause of human suffering when the neoplasm affects the nerve endings. So cancer of the apex of the lung, when the tumor grows upward, it causes pain in the neck and shoulders. Intracranial tumors, oncological diseases of the head also cause pain in the cervical spine.
  • Abscesses and phlegmons of the head.
  • Bleeding in the subarachnoid space between the brain and its delicate tissues.

Psychological causes of neck pain.

Neck pain symptoms often appear along with a muscle spasm. The spasm is not only due to stress, injury or injury, the cause can be stress, nervous shock and fatigue. Why is this happening?

The fact is that the body perceives stress as a threat to its well-being and this causes it to mobilize. There is a release of stress hormones into the bloodstream, the heart rate increases, and digestion, on the contrary, slows down. Muscle tone increases in response to hormonal changes. As soon as the alarming situation is experienced, the body goes into normal mode. But if emotional stress takes on a chronic form, muscle spasm becomes constant, and against it, diseases of the spine develop (osteochondrosis, hernia, disc protrusion).

Sedentary lifestyle, frequent computer work

neck pain from computer work

Pain in the neck muscles often occurs due to the fact that a person has an altered posture, and the cause of the altered posture can be a weakness of the muscular corset. As a rule, this happens in people who are far from physical education, lead a sedentary lifestyle and work a lot on the computer. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the workplace is often not properly organized and the person feels hunched over or uncomfortable. As a result, the pain radiating to the neck becomes a constant companion, the usual muscle spasm is formed, degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs begin, and osteochondrosis develops. And even with osteochondrosis, neck pain becomes a constant companion: periods of decreasing pain are replaced by exacerbations, and only competent treatment, a change in lifestyle from sedentary to mobile, control of the posture, strengthening neck and back muscles can break this cycle. .

Neck pain diagnosis

How to establish the causes of neck pain and determine the diagnosis?

  • First of all, you need to collect an anamnesis:
  • Anamnesis of life. It is necessary to find out whether there have been injuries to the neck and shoulder girdle in the past, what diseases the person had and which ones became chronic, whether there was a recent cold and hypothermia. For example, the fact of cholecystitis can explain the painful sensations in the neck: with biliary colic, the pain sometimes radiates only to this area. At the same time, the cause of neck pain on the left side can be: a tumor in the upper part of the left lung, muscle inflammation and compression of the spinal roots on the left side.
  • Anamnesis of the disease: how and how it began, which doctor consulted the patient, what examination and treatment was prescribed, how it influenced the course of the disease (whether it got better or worse).
  • A visual examination will help to establish a diagnosis: the doctor palpates the lymph nodes and muscles, checks the mobility of the head and neck, assesses the condition and color of the skin, looks for visible damage and trauma.
  • If there is a suspicion that neck and shoulder pain are the result of diseases of other organs, the patient should be referred to a specialized specialist: oncologist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, etc.
  • In other cases, radiation diagnosis will help clarify the diagnosis: MSCT, CT, X-rays.
  • Sometimes electroneuromyography (ENMG), an electrophysiological study, is a useful diagnostic procedure, determining the state of the muscles and the peripheral nervous system.

Neck pain treatment

Drug treatment

treating neck pain with medications

Medical treatment of neck pain, whether it is due to cancer or problems in other organs, is aimed at addressing the underlying disease identified. If the problem is in diseases of the spine and muscle tension, the following medications may be prescribed:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. NSAIDs are available in the form of tablets, injections, and in the form of gels and ointments. In the acute stage, both can be prescribed (at intervals of several hours). So if you can turn your head from neck pain only through tears, injections and ointments will come to the rescue.
  2. Muscle relaxants are drugs that reduce skeletal muscle tone.
  3. Antispasmodics - Medications to relieve smooth muscle spasms.
  4. B vitamins are necessary to improve metabolic processes and neurotransmitter synthesis.
  5. If blood circulation is impaired due to compression of blood vessels and muscles, vasodilator medications are prescribed.


Massage to treat pain in the neck and lower back is used when the acute symptoms of the disease have disappeared. The beneficial effect of massage is that:

  • Improves blood flow in the affected area.
  • Relieves muscle spasms, relaxes, helps relieve tension and fatigue.
  • Eliminate swelling and inflammation.
  • Improves cerebral blood flow
  • Restores the ability of the joints to move.


Physiotherapy treatment of neck pain begins at the same time as medication, when acute symptoms subside or remission occurs. During the period of the acute course of the disease, only those manipulations that have an analgesic effect can be prescribed. Physiotherapy gives a good effect, because the effect is specifically aimed at the diseased area. What procedures are possible?

  1. Electrophoresis with various drugs. Under the influence of alternating current, the drugs penetrate deep into the tissues.
  2. Phototherapy (laser therapy): exposure to light rays with a fixed wavelength on the affected area of the body.
  3. Magnetotherapy is a method of treating pain below the neck and in the neck using an alternating or constant magnetic field. The method has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
  4. Ultrasound treatment relieves neck pain and inflammation.
  5. Tensor therapy is a stretch of the spine due to the weight of a person on a special mattress with inclined ribs. This type of physiotherapy normalizes muscle tone, relieves tension.
  6. The Shock Wave Therapy (SWT) method is based on the action of low-frequency acoustic waves that the human ear cannot hear. Treatment with the help of shock wave therapy allows you to reduce or disappear pain, improve blood flow in the area of exposure to the device.
  7. Vibration therapy: exposure to mechanical vibrations using vibrating massagers.
  8. Exercise therapy (physiotherapy exercises) - the complex can range from traditional gymnastics to an individual set of exercises, developed taking into account the diagnosis and the patient's condition.

Surgical intervention

Surgical treatment for neck pain is prescribed when conservative therapy has not given the desired result:

  • The pain does not go away with the medication.
  • There are signs of compression of the spinal cord and roots.
  • Pronounced and increased weakness in the muscles of the hands.

Very often, operations to remove herniated discs are performed simultaneously with the fusion and immobilization of the adjacent vertebrae. To eliminate compression of the spinal cord, laminectomy is used: removal of a part of the vertebral arch, followed by removal of osteophytes and hernias.

After surgery and proper rehabilitation, the symptoms of neck pain cease to bother the patient.

Prevent neck pain

a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of neck pain

With neck pain, turning the head, tilting it or lying down comfortably becomes a big problem. And if it hurts a lot, then life ceases to please at all. You can avoid neck problems with prevention. What do we have to do?

  • Choose a comfortable sleeping position, a firm enough mattress, and a low pillow that your shoulders won't sag on.
  • Control your own posture - don't slouch, don't feel slouched.
  • Do at least simple exercises to strengthen your neck muscles regularly. Stretching and yoga are helpful.
  • If you have a sedentary lifestyle, take breaks every hour and a half to walk, stretch, and stretch.
  • Protect yourself from physical injury: do not turn your neck sharply, avoid impacts and traumatic sports loads.
  • Get rid of the habit of talking on the phone by putting pressure on it with your ear and shoulder.
  • Avoid nervous concussions, stress, and worry. Negative emotions and anxiety can cause stiffness, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
  • It is undesirable to carry one of the two shoulders, since the distortion of the spine causes neck pain on the right or left side.
  • Avoid colds and drafts that can cause myositis (inflammation of the neck muscles).
  • Drink lots of decaffeinated liquids. Adequate water allows you to efficiently transport the substances and electrolytes your muscles need.
  • Eat foods that contain calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. A deficiency in these substances can lead to muscle spasms and neck pain.

Severe neck pain can seriously ruin your life, especially if it happened at the wrong time, for example, on a long-awaited vacation. Therefore, in the first "calls", one should not ignore the alarming signals of the body, but undergo an examination and obtain the recommendation of a doctor. Remembering about prevention is not out of place: moderate exercise, sleeping and working in a comfortable position, proper nutrition, and weight distribution during transport will help maintain neck health.