What causes neck pain?

Neck pain is the discomfort associated with any part of the neck, but what causes neck pain? There are many factors that can contribute to discomfort, stiffness and limited mobility in the neck. Activities in our daily lives, medical conditions and accidents can all contribute to its onset.

The degree of pain can vary between mild and severe, and can present as an aching, burning, dull, sharp or shooting pain. Numbness, weakness, spasms or tingling in the shoulders, arms and hands also may occur. Depending on the underlying cause, neck pain may eventually go away on its own with basic treatment — or may require more advanced measures.

Specific causes of neck pain

There are many everyday activities which can cause neck or back pain. Sleeping in an awkward position, driving with tensed muscles or sitting hunched over your desk for long periods of time can result in a stiff neck. Repetitive motions at work or in sports can cause strained neck muscles that require rest, stretching and basic treatment like medication and ice. Neck pain can also be caused by a sudden accident or injury, like a car accident.

Age-related spine conditions can narrow the spinal canal and nerve root exits, causing neck pain and other radiating symptoms if they put pressure on a spinal nerve. Here are some common spine conditions that can cause neck pain:

  • Herniated discs — Occurs when a tear in a spinal disc’s outer layer pushes liquid from the interior into the spinal column.
  • Bulging discs — A bulging disc is when a weakened disc extends out from its normal perimeter due to pressure from surrounding vertebrae.
  • Bone spurs — Often caused by arthritis, a bone spur is abnormal bone growth that occurs as exposed joints attempt to stabilize themselves from increased friction.
  • Facet disease — Also related to spinal arthritis, facet disease is when inflamed or swollen spinal joints, called facet joints, cause stiffness and pain.

Other conditions such as meningitis, fibromyalgia, spinal infections and, in rare cases, cancer, can all cause neck pain as well.

A treatment option

If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition as the source of your neck pain, most physicians will usually begin treatment with a course of conservative options including pain medication, exercise, rest and hot and cold compression. Surgery can be explored as an option if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring needed relief.

If you are considering surgery but are concerned about some of the risks and difficulties involved with traditional open neck procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional procedures, offering a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication.

Reach out to our team for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.