Neck pain is pain that starts in the neck and can be associated with radiating pain down one
or both arms.
Neck pain may be caused by arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal,
muscle inflammation, strain, or trauma.
In addition to neck pain, pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord by a herniated disc or a
bone spur may result in:
Pain in the arm
Numbness or weakness in the arm or forearm
Tingling in the fingers or hand
Difficulty with balance and walking
Weakness in the arms or legs
Seeking Medical Care
Those with neck pain may be referred to a neurosurgeon because of pain in the neck,
shoulder or tingling and numbness in the arms or weakness.
Testing & Diagnosis
Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan)
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Selective Nerve Root Block
Most causes of neck pain are not life threatening and resolve with time and conservative
The doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the pain or inflammation and muscle
relaxants to allow time for healing to occur.
Reducing physical activities or wearing a cervical collar may help provide support for the
spine, reduce mobility and decrease pain and irritation.
When conservative treatment for neck pain does not provide relief, surgery may be needed.
Patients may be a candidate for surgery if:
Conservative therapy is not helping
The patient experiences a decrease in function due to persistent pain
The patient experiences progressive neurological symptoms involving the arms and legs
The patient has trouble with balance or walking
The patient is in otherwise good health
If neck pain resolves with non-surgical, conservative treatment, follow-up will be on
an as-needed basis or if symptoms return. If a patient undergoes surgery, follow-up is
specific to each type of procedure.