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Neck Pain: Causes and Treatment

Neck pain can range from a mild inconvenience after a poor night’s sleep to a painful interference in your daily life because of a serious injury. Fortunately, there are many different treatment options that can help ease neck pain. The first step, however, is to determine the underlying cause. 

How the neck works

The neck, also known as the cervical spine, is a complex and hard-working structure. It is made up of seven small vertebrae, plus intervertebral discs that absorb shock, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments and the spinal cord. 

Each of these parts play an important role in helping you move your head, neck and shoulders throughout the day, and carry important signals and messages to your brain from your entire body. When something isn’t working as it should, it can make simple, every day tasks difficult and painful. 

What is the cause of my neck pain?

Neck pain can be caused by many different reasons, from mild to serious injuries or medical conditions. A few causes include: 

Neck Pain: When to Treat at Home and When to Call a Doctor

General neck pain can be common and most people have experienced neck pain at some point during their life. However, if your neck pain persists after a few days of treating it at home with gentle stretching and an anti-inflammatory or pain reliever, we recommend you contact your physician.

A medical professional can provide a comprehensive evaluation and ask questions about when your neck began to hurt, and what you think may be the cause. After the exam, your doctor may refer you for more testing, such as an x-ray, MRI or a neurological consult, or he or she may prescribe physical therapy. 

Most of the time, neck pain can be treated with exercises, therapy and medication. Occasionally, patients may need cervical spine surgery. Your medical team will work closely with you and will let you know if surgery is right for you.