Neck Pain is a pain posteriorly anywhere between the skull base and the thoracic spine. It is the largest cause of musculoskeletal disability after low back pain. Approximately two-thirds of the population will suffer from neck pain at some time in their life with high prevalence in the middle ages. Fortunately for most people, the acute pain resolves within days or weeks although in some it may reoccur or become chronic.
Neck pain may be a result of…
- Local pathology
- Whiplash (flexion-extension) injuries/ trauma
- Be a part of a more widespread systemic problem such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.
- Be a result of referred pain from neighboring areas, for example, the shoulder joint
Neck pain usually has a multifactorial etiology -poor posture, neck strain/injuries, anxiety, depression, and stress can play a role in magnifying the perceived pain. Quite often the diagnosis of simple or nonspecific neck pain is used implying postural and mechanical causes; this is contrary to other serious causes of neck pain such as fracture, tumor, infection, etc.
Pain from the upper neck can radiate towards the head leading to frequent headaches and that from the lower part of the neck can radiate to the shoulder, arm, chest wall, and the scapula. Reduced neck movement along with localized areas of muscle tenderness known as trigger points are commonly observed along with pain.
Like with other chronic pain conditions, multi-disciplinary management based on the biopsychosocial model of pain is the preferred approach. Please follow these links to find out how medication optimization, physiotherapy, Psychology and complementary therapies such as acupuncture TENS and meditation can help.
Dr. Amod Manocha is a Senior Consultant and Head of Pain Management Services at Max Multispecialty Hospital, Saket. He is trained as a Pain Management Specialist and an Anaesthetist in the UK. He has over 13 years of work experience in the UK including working as a Chronic Pain Consultant in many UK hospitals.