|A person with neck pain|
Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal problems. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back.
The head is supported by the lower neck and upper back, and it is these areas that commonly cause neck pain. The top three joints in the neck allow for most movement of the neck and head. The lower joints in the neck and those of the upper back create a supportive structure for the head to sit on. If this support system is affected adversely, then the muscles in the area will tighten, leading to neck pain.
Neck pain affects about 5% of the global population as of 2010.
Major and severe causes of neck pain (roughly in order of severity) include:
- Carotid artery dissection
- Referred pain from acute coronary syndrome
- Head and neck cancer
- Infections: retropharyngeal abscess, epiglottitis, etc.
- Spinal disc herniation – protruding or bulging discs, or if severe prolapse.
- Spondylosis - degenerative arthritis and osteophytes
- Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal
More common and lesser neck pain causes include:
- Stress – physical and emotional stresses
- Prolonged postures – many people fall asleep on sofas and chairs and wake up with sore necks.
- Minor injuries and falls – car accidents, sporting events, and day to day injuries that are really minor.
- Referred pain – mostly from upper back problems
- Over-use – muscular strain is one of the most common causes
- Pinched nerve
Although the causes are numerous, most are easily rectified by either professional help or using self help advice and techniques.
More causes can include: poor sleeping posture, torticollis, head injury, rheumatoid arthritis, Carotidynia, congenital cervical rib, mononucleosis, rubella, certain cancers, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical spine fracture, esophageal trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, lymphadenitis, thyroid trauma, and tracheal trauma.
Treatment of neck pain depends on the cause. For the vast majority of people, neck pain can be treated conservatively. Recommendations in which it helps alleviate symptoms include applying heat or cold. Other common treatments could include medication, body mechanics training, ergonomic reform, and physical therapy. Treatments may also include patient education, but existing evidence shows a lack of effectiveness.
Muscle relaxants may also be recommended. However, one study showed that one muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine was not effective for treatment of acute cervical strain (as opposed to neck pain from other etiologies or chronic neck pain).
Surgery is usually not indicated for mechanical causes of neck pain. If neck pain is the result of instability, cancer, or other disease process surgery may be necessary. Surgery is usually not indicated for "pinched nerves" or herniated discs unless there is spinal cord compression or pain and disability have been protracted for many months and refractory to conservative treatment such as physical therapy.
Exercise plus joint manipulation has been found to be beneficial in both acute and chronic mechanical neck disorders. In particular, specific strengthening exercise may improve function and pain. Motor control using cranio-cervical flexion exercises has been shown to be effective for non-specific chronic neck pain. Both cervical manipulation and cervical mobilization produce similar immediate-, and short-term changes. Multiple cervical manipulation sessions may provide better pain relief and functional improvement than certain medications at immediate to long-term follow-up. Thoracic manipulation may also improve pain and function. Low level laser therapy has been shown to reduce pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients that experience chronic neck pain. Low quality evidence suggests that cognitive-behavioural therapy may be effective at reducing pain in the short-term. Massaging the area may provide immediate and short-lived benefits, but long term effects are unknown. There is a lack of high-quality evidence to support the use of mechanical traction, and side effects include headaches, nausea and injury to tissue. Radiofrequency denervation may provide temporary relief for specific affected areas in the neck. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), the noninvasive use of electrical stimulation on the skin, is of unclear benefit in chronic neck pain.
About one-half of episodes resolve within one year and around 10% become chronic.
Prevalence of neck pain in the population suggests it is a common condition. For cervicalgia associated with bad posture the treatment is usually corrective in nature (i.e. ensure shoulders are in one line above the hips) and relating to interventions that provide ergonomic improvement. There is also growing research in how neck pain caused by mobile devices (see iHunch) can be prevented using embedded warning systems.
- Binder AI (March 2007). "Cervical spondylosis and neck pain". BMJ. 334 (7592): 527–31. doi:10.1136/bmj.39127.608299.80. PMC 1819511. PMID 17347239.
- March L, Smith EU, Hoy DG, Cross MJ, Sanchez-Riera L, Blyth F, et al. (June 2014). "Burden of disability due to musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders". Best Practice & Research. Clinical Rheumatology. 28 (3): 353–66. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2014.08.002. PMID 25481420.
- Mattu A, Goyal D, Barrett JW, Broder J, DeAngelis M, Deblieux P, et al. (2007). Emergency medicine: avoiding the pitfalls and improving the outcomes. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Pub./BMJ Books. pp. 46–7. ISBN 978-1-4051-4166-6.
- Garra G, Singer AJ, Leno R, Taira BR, Gupta N, Mathaikutty B, Thode HJ (May 2010). "Heat or cold packs for neck and back strain: a randomized controlled trial of efficacy". Academic Emergency Medicine. 17 (5): 484–9. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00735.x. PMID 20536800.
- Gross A, Forget M, St George K, Fraser MM, Graham N, Perry L, et al. (March 2012). "Patient education for neck pain". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD005106. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd005106.pub4. PMID 22419306.
- Strudwick K, McPhee M, Bell A, Martin-Khan M, Russell T (December 2018). "Review article: Best practice management of neck pain in the emergency department (part 6 of the musculoskeletal injuries rapid review series)". Emergency Medicine Australasia. 30 (6): 754–772. doi:10.1111/1742-6723.13131. PMID 30168261. S2CID 52130773.
- Machado GC, Maher CG, Ferreira PH, Day RO, Pinheiro MB, Ferreira ML (July 2017). "Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for spinal pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 76 (7): 1269–1278. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210597. PMID 28153830. S2CID 22850331.
- Khwaja SM, Minnerop M, Singer AJ (January 2010). "Comparison of ibuprofen, cyclobenzaprine or both in patients with acute cervical strain: a randomized controlled trial". Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. 12 (1): 39–44. doi:10.1017/S1481803500012008. PMID 20078917.
- Carley S (June 2005). "Manipulation and/or exercise for neck pain?". BestBets.
- Gross A, Kay TM, Paquin JP, Blanchette S, Lalonde P, Christie T, et al. (January 2015). "Exercises for mechanical neck disorders". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1: CD004250. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004250.pub5. PMID 25629215.
- Martin-Gomez, Carmen; Sestelo-Diaz, Rebeca; Carrillo-Sanjuan, Victor; Navarro-Santana, Marcos Jose; Bardon-Romero, Judit; Plaza-Manzano, Gustavo (2019). "Motor control using cranio-cervical flexion exercises versus other treatments for non-specific chronic neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Musculoskeletal Science and Practice. 42: 52–59. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2019.04.010. PMID 31030111.
- Gross A, Langevin P, Burnie SJ, Bédard-Brochu MS, Empey B, Dugas E, et al. (September 2015). "Manipulation and mobilisation for neck pain contrasted against an inactive control or another active treatment". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9): CD004249. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004249.pub4. PMID 26397370.
- Huisman PA, Speksnijder CM, de Wijer A (September 2013). "The effect of thoracic spine manipulation on pain and disability in patients with non-specific neck pain: a systematic review". Disability and Rehabilitation. 35 (20): 1677–85. doi:10.3109/09638288.2012.750689. PMID 23339721. S2CID 12159586.
- Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM (December 2009). "Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials". Lancet. 374 (9705): 1897–908. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61522-1. PMID 19913903. S2CID 16336402.
- Monticone M, Cedraschi C, Ambrosini E, Rocca B, Fiorentini R, Restelli M, et al. (May 2015). "Cognitive-behavioural treatment for subacute and chronic neck pain". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 5 (5): CD010664. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd010664.pub2. hdl:2434/352344. PMID 26006174.
- Patel KC, Gross A, Graham N, Goldsmith CH, Ezzo J, Morien A, Peloso PM (September 2012). "Massage for mechanical neck disorders". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (9): CD004871. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004871.pub4. PMID 22972078.
- Graham N, Gross A, Goldsmith CH, Klaber Moffett J, Haines T, Burnie SJ, Peloso PM (July 2008). "Mechanical traction for neck pain with or without radiculopathy". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD006408. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd006408.pub2. PMID 18646151.
- Niemisto L, Kalso E, Malmivaara A, Seitsalo S, Hurri H (2003-01-20). "Radiofrequency denervation for neck and back pain. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD004058. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004058. PMID 12535508.
- Martimbianco AL, Porfírio GJ, Pacheco RL, Torloni MR, Riera R (December 2019). "Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for chronic neck pain". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 12: CD011927. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd011927.pub2. PMC 6953309. PMID 31830313.
- Vos T, Flaxman AD, Naghavi M, Lozano R, Michaud C, et al. (December 2012). "Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010". Lancet. 380 (9859): 2163–96. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61729-2. PMC 6350784. PMID 23245607.
- Deen H, Bartleson JD (2009). Spine disorders medical and surgical management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-521-88941-4.
- "Preventing Neck Pain". How to Reduce Neck Pain. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
- Driessen, Maurice T.; Proper, Karin I.; Anema, Johannes R.; Bongers, Paulien M.; van der Beek, Allard J. (2010-08-24). "Process evaluation of a participatory ergonomics programme to prevent low back pain and neck pain among workers". Implementation Science. 5 (1): 65. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-65. ISSN 1748-5908. PMC 2936444. PMID 20735823.
- Giansanti, D.; Colombaretti, L.; Simeoni, R.; Maccioni, G. (2019). Masia, Lorenzo; Micera, Silvestro; Akay, Metin; Pons, José L. (eds.). "The Text Neck: Can Smartphone Apps with Biofeedback Aid in the Prevention of This Syndrome". Converging Clinical and Engineering Research on Neurorehabilitation III. Biosystems & Biorobotics. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 21: 754–758. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-01845-0_150. ISBN 978-3-030-01845-0.
- Toda, Takeshi; Nakai, Masato; Xinxin Liu (2015). "A close face-distance warning system for straightend neck prevention". IECON 2015 - 41st Annual Conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society: 003347–003352. doi:10.1109/IECON.2015.7392616. ISBN 978-1-4799-1762-4. S2CID 25314942.