Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 14:37
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Neck pain is very common with almost 50% of people being affected at some point in their lives. Acute neck pain is usually the result of bad posture or a minor injury and usually clears up of it's own accord with rest, painkillers and gentle stretching.
Other causes include a trapped nerve, tension headaches or migraines or more rarely as a result of an underlying medical condition like arthritis. Chronic neck pain may require further medical treatment.
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
The symptoms of neck pain may very depending on the cause of your pain. Common symptoms include:
Pain and stiffness: The pain may be located in the back of your neck or it may spread down to the shoulder or between the shoulders. When the pain is caused by a tension headache or migraine you may feel the pain in the back of the head, to one side of the face or behind the eye. Muscles may feel stiff sore or tense and you may feel tingling in the fingers. Stiffness is often worse after staying in one position for a long time, even though it may hurt to move.
Noise in the joints: Clicking or grating sounds caused by the bony surface of your joints moving against each other or by ligaments moving against the bone.
Torticollis: Where the neck becomes twisted to one side and it is difficult and painful to move it back to the centre. This is usually due to a spasm and usually relaxes after a couple of hours.
Diziness: Although this is rare you may feel dizzy due to pinching of a vertebral artery.
See your doctor urgently if you have any weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms.
Diagnosing Neck Pain
Normally your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your medical history and a physical examination. Your doctor will want to find out where the pain is coming from, how much you can move before you experience pain and whether any muscles are in spasm. They will also determine the kind of movements or activities that bring on the pain.
Further tests such as X-rays, CT or MRI scans are usually done if there is a suspicion of a trapped nerve, spinal stenosis, spinal fracture, inflammation, infection or tumour.
You may need to give a blood sample for laboratory tests to help with the diagnosis.
Next: Causes Of Neck Pain
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