ZocdocAnswersWhat causes chronic neck pain?

Question

What causes chronic neck pain?

My neck and shoulders are always tight and I frequently get migraines. Can the two be related? I try to sit and strand up straight, but sometimes the pain increases. I know the S curve of my spine is exaggerated and my head and neck stick out further than it should. I sometimes find that my shoulders are in a ""shrugged"" position and they feel extra tight. Could this be reflex that I could train my body to correct? I try to avoid taking over-the-counter pain relievers whenever I can, I would like to care for the problem rather than mask the symptoms. Is there any chiropractic therapy or exercises I can do to relieve the pain and start correcting this issue? Is there a particular routine that a chiropractor will suggest?

Answer

Chronic neck pain is very common. This however, can be dangerous over time. If it is left untreated, it can degenerate and become extremely debilitating. I would strongly recommend that you see your primary care doctor to have this evaluated. If necessary, he or she can send you to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon. First, chronic neck pain can cause headaches. These are not necessarily migraines, but what we call "tension headaches." These are different than migraines, but can be equally as troubling. These are caused by strain/sprain of the muscles around the neck. The chronic neck pain itself can certainly be caused by misalignment of the spine. The spine protects the spinal cord, which at each level (each vetebarae) sends out nerves to the body. If the spine is misaligned, this can cause "pinching" of the nerves and significant pain. There are many treatments for this, however it often involves confirming the diagnosis first. The most effective treatment for this is physical therapy, where the body learns how to maintain the muscles that protect the spine and the nerves. Rarely medicines and even more rarely surgery can be helpful. Please talk to your primary care doctor. Physical therapy may be needed. Good luck!

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