Neck pain can occur anywhere in your neck, from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. It can spread to your upper back or arms. It may limit how much you can move your head and neck.
Neck pain is common, especially in people older than 50.
Most neck pain is caused by activities that strain the neck. Lifting weight overhead, slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with your neck twisted are some things that can cause neck pain. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a spasm of the neck muscles, or swelling of the neck joints.
Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. A fall from a ladder or whiplash from a car accident can cause neck pain.
Some less common medical problems can also lead to neck pain, such as:
- An infection in the neck.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis).
- You may feel a knot, stiffness, or severe pain in your neck. The pain may spread to your shoulders, upper back, or arms. You may get a headache. You may not be able to move or turn your head and neck easily. If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, you might have pain that shoots down your arm. You may also have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm.
- If your neck pain is long-lasting (chronic), you may have trouble coping with daily life. Common side effects of chronic pain include fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Neck Pain that Radiates Down the Arm
Pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is frequently caused by a cervical herniated disc or foraminal stenosis pinching a nerve in the neck.
The pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands. The symptoms may start suddenly or develop over time.