Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"I get excruciating shooting electric shock-like pain in the right side of my neck. What could it be?"
the pain is so severe it has on occasions made me pass out. it only lasts about 20 to 30 seconds but I always fear it will last longer as it is the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I've had it since I was a child and I'm now 50 but it is getting more frequent. can you help me understand what this might be.
It is difficult to know from your brief description what might be causing this pain, but I would strongly recommend that you speak with your doctor. Any kind of shooting neck pain, especially if it is burning or associated with tingling or numbness, can be caused by nerve compression from the bones in your neck (examples of conditions that cause this are cervical spinal stenosis, cervical disc disease, etc). You might notice that your symptoms get triggered by turning your head in a certain position, certain exercises, or sitting in a certain position for some time. You could have periodic intense muscle spasms that cause your pain, headaches, or carotid artery disease. If you have been having the same symptoms for many years it is also possible that there is a stress or anxiety component that causes the pain to flare up. Given the severity of your symptoms and that you feel like it is getting worse, I would strongly recommend that you bring this up with your doctor, who can get a more complete history from you and perform a physical exam. Based on your discussion your doctor can better determine if this is likely to represent something serious and if any further work-up, including spinal imaging, is warranted.
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