ZocdocAnswersWhat causes neck pain?

Question

What causes neck pain?

I'm a middle aged guy with serious neck problems, and a lifetime of back problems. At present, both sides of my neck are in bad pain, and I hear a kind of crunching sound when I turn my head. I know I should go to a doctor, but what kind of problems would cause these symtoms?

Answer

That is a very good question. There are a variety of causes for neck pain, some of which can be very serious. Of course, your primary care doctor will be best able to evaluate your medical history and presenting neurological complaints and decide upon the proper course of action for evaluation and possible treatment if deemed appropriate. You mention a history of neck problems but it is unclear what these entail. A history of trauma, spinal manipulation by chiropractor, or certain jobs that require wearing hard hats or keeping your neck in certain positions can all cause early degeneration in the cervical spine that can be a cause of this pain. Degenerative disc disease is a common problem in the cervical spine that may be causing these complaints. Muscle spasms can also cause painful neck symptoms that are exacerbated by moving your neck or head. If you are having any weakness, numbness, tingling, sharp pain radiating to your arms or legs, or problems with your gait, these can be associated with cervical problems and would also deem evaluation by a skilled medical provider. Diagnostic evaluation may include physical exam, imaging studies such as an mri, and treatments can include a trial of muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and perhaps surgery if deemed necessary. See your primary care doctor to further evaluate these concerns.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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