Neck Pain

What Is Neck Pain?

As many as 20% of adults suffer from neck pain that interferes with their day-to-day lives. Neck pain is a common complaint that can stem from a variety of issues. The neck is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, nerves, and ligaments, all of which work together to support the head and allow for movement. When any of these structures are injured or placed under too much strain, neck pain can result. Our medical team has the knowledge and experience to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Causes of Neck Pain

Your neck, also known as the cervical spine, consists of seven vertebrae. Their main functions are to support the head and allow for a full range of motion. As we age, the neck is particularly susceptible to injuries and degenerative diseases due to years of repetitive movements and the stress of carrying the weight of the head.

Soft tissue damage can sometimes be the cause of neck pain, the following conditions impact the nerves resulting in significant pain:

  • Cervical stenosis, or the narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Disc degeneration
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative Arthritis of the Spine
  • Sprains and strains
  • Whiplash

Are you curious about what spine vertebrae correspond to different areas of pain? Check out our blog on neck and spine pain.

Other Symptoms

If your neck pain is due to a compressed nerve, you may experience a variety of symptoms in addition to pain. These symptoms often include tingling and numbness radiating throughout your arms and shoulders and can vary in severity. If you are experiencing neck pain with arm numbness or tingling in neck muscles, you could have a compressed nerve.

Depending on the cause of your pain, you may also have trouble moving your head as well as an increase in headaches. Some conditions, such as whiplash, may also result in dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus and memory loss.

Diagnosing Neck Pain Cause

To determine the cause of the neck pain, your doctor will first look at the individual’s medical history and ask about symptoms. A physical examination of the neck will also be performed. Differential diagnosis neck pain is a process of neck pain evaluation to identify the neck pain cause. Diagnostic tests that may be ordered include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The results of these tests can help to rule out other conditions that may be causing neck pain. A neck MRI can also help to determine if neck surgery is necessary. In some cases, a neck biopsy may also be ordered. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, most causes of neck pain can be effectively managed.


Conventional neck pain treatments include anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants used in combination with physical therapy. The goal is to improve your range of motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles. 

If your neck pain doesn’t respond well to conventional treatments, our team looks to interventional pain management options such as cervical epidural steroid injections and cervical facet blocks. These treatments target the affected nerves, addressing your pain at the source.

Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection

Your provider administers an inflammation-reducing steroid directly into the epidural space in your neck. While long-lasting, the steroid can often take longer to relieve pain, so your doctor may also inject a local anesthetic with the steroid to provide immediate, though temporary, relief.

Cervical Facet Block

The vertebrae in your spine are connected to other joints in your body through facet joints. The cartilage in these facet joints can break down over years of use, resulting in arthritis and bone spurs, both of which can compress nearby nerves and limit neck range of motion. A facet block works by injecting steroids and a local anesthetic into the damaged facet joint.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to seek medical attention from a neurologist for neck pain so that the underlying cause can be diagnosed and treated. Our board-certified spine specialists at Brain and Spine LLC are neck pain professionals and have years of experience. We offer a full range of conservative and minimally invasive treatment options that can provide relief from neck pain and help you get back to your normal activities. To learn more about our neck pain treatments or to schedule an appointment, please call us today.


Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?

While most neck pain is due to muscle strain or wear and tear, sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious. Persistent or severe pain, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like numbness, weakness, or headache, should be evaluated by a doctor for neck pain.

How do you get rid of neck pain?

Treatment for neck pain varies based on its cause. Common remedies include rest, neck strain treatment like physiotherapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Topical applications like icy hot for neck pain can also provide relief.

What are the most common causes of neck pain?

Common causes include muscle strains, wear and tear (such as osteoarthritis), nerve compression, injuries, and diseases like cervicalgia. Activities that strain the neck muscles, like prolonged computer use or poor posture, can also lead to discomfort.

What is cervicalgia neck pain?

Cervicalgia is a general term that refers to pain located in the neck. It doesn’t point to a specific cause but instead describes the symptom of pain in the neck region.

Can neck pain cause nausea?

Yes, neck problems, particularly those affecting the side of the neck near the cervical spine, can sometimes cause nausea, especially if the pain is severe or is linked to other conditions.

What doctor should you see for neck pain?

For general neck pain, you can start with a primary care physician. However, for persistent or severe cases, it would be beneficial to seek a referral to a specialist, like the ones at Brain & Spine, who are well-equipped to diagnose and recommend appropriate treatments for conditions related to the brain and spine.

What causes pain on the left side of your neck where the pulse is?

Left side neck pain near the pulse point might be related to issues with the carotid artery, muscle strain, or other neck structures. Any pain in this area, especially if persistent, should be evaluated by a professional.

What causes pain in the neck when breathing in deeply?

Pain in the neck during deep breaths can be caused by strain or inflammation in the front neck pain areas, such as the trachea or larynx, or might be related to referred pain from other areas of the body.

When should you worry about neck pain?

If neck pain is severe, persistent, accompanied by numbness or weakness, or if it’s the result of an injury, it’s essential to see a doctor, like the experts at Brain & Spine, for neck pain. Also, if neck pain is associated with other symptoms like difficulty swallowing, it should be evaluated promptly.

Should I use ice or heat for a sore neck?

For recent injuries or acute neck pain, ice can help reduce inflammation. After 48 hours or for chronic pain, heat can help relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area.