Neck pain is a very common problem that can with a number of possible causes. It can come from laying crooked while watching TV, it can come from sleeping in a draft, it can come as a response to a cold or flu, it can hurt because of a sinus infection (“referred pain”), it can arise from an injury like car accidents, it can come from over lifting or carrying, it can come from pinching the phone between your ear and shoulder, or it can even come from stress. Rare, but dangerous, causes include bleeding inside the head during a stroke or neck pain due to a heart attack. Obviously, these must be emergently evaluated and treated. There is even a category of causation called “insidious” or “idiopathic” which means we DON’T KNOW where the neck pain is coming from! It’s important to understand that neck pain is a symptom, not a disease which means we have to identify the cause… if we can! This is why a detailed evaluation is required.
These are some common causes of neck pain (please refer to the pictures below):
Of course, there are many other causes of neck pain, but these are quite common and should be first considered when evaluating a patient with neck pain.