The neck is located between the head and the shoulders. Because of its location and range-of-motion, it is often left unprotected and subject to injury.
Neck pain can result from many different causes - from injury to inflammatory disease. Causes of neck pain and problems may include the following:
Injury (damage to the muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments)
Herniated cervical disk
Arthritis (i.e., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
Cervical disk degeneration
Congenital (present at birth) abnormalities of the vertebrae and bones
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for neck pain may include the following:
X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.
Computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce both horizontal and vertical cross-sectional images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
Myelogram - a procedure that uses dye injected into the spinal canal to make the structure clearly visible on x-rays.
Electromyogram (EMG) - a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
Specific treatment for neck pain will be determined by your physician based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
Medication (to reduce inflammation)
Medication (to control pain)
Neck brace or immobilization