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Neck pain

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 03.02.2023 | 2 min read

Neck pain is a very common complaint. It is estimated that over two-thirds of adults will experience an episode of neck pain at some time. In most cases, neck pain is not serious and resolves within a few days. Isolated neck pain, or simple neck pain, describes pain felt in the neck and/or around the shoulders without spreading into the arms or down the spine towards the lower back.

What can cause it?

Simple neck pain has a number of causes and in most cases is multifactorial (lots lof little things combined). Things that can contribute to episodes of neck pain include overuse activities, poor standing or sitting posture and muscle imbalances. Simple neck pain is often felt as tightness or dull ache in the neck that can be worsened with certain positions or movements.

When to see your doctor

If you develop severe neck pain following an injury you should seek urgent medical attention. You should also seek urgent advice if your neck pain has any of the following associated features;

  • Neck pain that is persistantly worse at night
  • Neck pain that radiates all the way down your arm into the hand
  • Neck pain that is associated with any limb weakness or change in your ability to walk
  • Neck pain that is associated with you feeling unwell with fevers, night sweats or recent unintentional weight loss.

What will your doctor do?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. In the absence of any concerning features, you may be given advice regarding exercises to help relieve your symptoms in addition to simple pain medications. You may be referred to a physiotherapist in the first instance, depending upon the local services available. On occasions, depending upon your symptoms and your examination, you may be sent for further investigations which can include blood tests, X-Ray or MRI scans.

Related topics

Read about Shoulder pain

Read about Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

Read about Tension headache

Read about Upper back pain

Read about Cervical disc herniation

Read about Arthritis

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