Pain located in the neck is a common medical condition. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders and diseases of any tissues in the neck. Examples of common conditions producing neck pain are degenerative disc disease, neck strain, neck injury such as in whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve.
Neck pain can also come from rare infections, such as tuberculosis of the neck and bone infection of the spine in the neck (osteomyelitis and septic discitis), and meningitis (often accompanied by neck stiffness). Neck pain can also come from conditions directly affecting the muscles of the neck, such as fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica.
Risk factors for neck pain include injury from involvement in contact sports, motor vehicle accidents, bull or bronco horse riding, etc. Prevention of neck pain in the context of these activities should include neck strengthening exercises and often neck bracing.
What are other symptoms that are associated with neck pain?
Neck pain is commonly associated with dull aching. Sometimes pain in the neck is worsened with movement of the neck. Other symptoms associated with some forms of neck pain include numbness, tingling, tenderness, sharp shooting pain, fullness, difficulty swallowing, pulsations, swishing sounds in the head, dizziness or lightheadedness, and lymph node (gland) swelling.
Neck pain can also be associated with headache, facial pain, shoulder pain, and arm numbness or tingling (upper extremity paresthesias). These associated symptoms are often a result of nerves becoming pinched in the neck. For example, compressing the nerve of sensation to the back of the head, which comes out of the neck, causes headaches in the back of the head. Depending on the condition, sometimes neck pain is accompanied by upper back and/or lower back pain, as is common in inflammation of the spine from ankylosing spondylitis.