Most Common Types of Neck Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced neck pain at some point in your life. Whether it’s a minor ache that comes and goes, or something more chronic and persistent, it’s important to understand the underlying causes of your neck pain.

Let’s explore the most common types of neck problems and the symptoms to help you better identify the potential source of your pain. If you’re looking for relief, our experienced team at Carolina Spine & Pain can help.

Neck Fracture (Cervical Vertebrae)

One of the most common types of neck problems is a neck fracture, also known as a cervical vertebrae fracture. It occurs when one or more of the vertebrae in the neck are broken due to trauma or injury.

Common causes of neck fractures include motor vehicle accidents, falls from heights, and physical altercations.

Symptoms of Neck Fracture (Cervical Vertebrae)

Symptoms of a neck fracture can include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the area
  • Difficulty moving or turning your head
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Decreased sensation in the affected parts of your body
  • Difficulty breathing if there is swelling around your throat

Treatment Options 

Treatment for neck fractures typically involves immobilizing the area using a brace or cast while it heals. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to reduce swelling and realign broken bones. Physical therapy can also help with muscle strengthening and atrophy prevention. When done properly and promptly, most people can make full recoveries from a neck fracture.

Neck Sprain

One of the most common causes of neck pain is a sprain, which happens when the nerve roots or joints in your neck are suddenly forced out of place. This can happen for a range of reasons, including too much physical strain, overextension, or whiplash from an accident.

Symptoms of Neck Sprain

Symptoms of a neck sprain can vary from mild to severe. They usually include (but are not limited to) pain and soreness in the neck and between the shoulders, restricted movement due to stiffness or tenderness, headaches, pain radiating down the arms, and tingling in the hands.

Treatment Options

Treatment options depend on the severity of the sprain. Mild sprains tend to heal on their own with rest and home remedies such as taking over-the-counter pain medications and applying heat packs or ice packs. More serious sprains may require physical therapy, medications, or even surgery.

Pinched Nerve

Your spine is made up of stacks of bones known as vertebrae. Depending on how much space those vertebrae have between them, the surrounding nerves may be compressed, and that’s what causes a pinched nerve. This happens when the space between two vertebrae is too small for the nerve to travel through—what’s known as a narrow spinal canal.

Depending on your age and lifestyle, a pinched nerve can also be caused by trauma or wear and tear. Some medical conditions can cause it, including arthritis or diabetes, which can cause swelling in your joints or spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

The symptoms usually materialize around your shoulders and arms. You might experience discomfort, and weakness or numbness in those areas, making it hard to perform everyday tasks like picking something up or typing on the computer. You might also feel sensations like pins and needles as if an area is falling asleep and muscle spasms or tenderness in the neck area.

Treatment Options

Your doctor will talk you through different treatment options depending on the severity of your case, but the good news is there are plenty of ways to ease the pressure from pinched nerves so you get back to feeling better fast!

This could include self-care remedies such as stretching or yoga for gentle movement or taking over-the-counter medication for inflammation.

A woman with neck pain from whiplash in a car accident.

Whiplash

You may have heard of whiplash or seen it in movies, but do you know what it is? Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a forceful, rapid back-and-forth head and neck motion, such as the type of motion experienced in a car accident.

Whiplash can cause pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion in the neck due to damage to ligaments, disks, and other structures in the area.

Here are some common causes of whiplash:

  • Car or motorcycle accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Physical abuse
  • Slipping and falling
  • Rollercoaster rides

Symptoms of Whiplash

  • Pain – This can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, making it hard to move your head.
  • Stiffness – This may make turning your head difficult or painful.
  • Tenderness – Pain when you lightly touch the muscles in your neck or shoulder area.
  • Headache – This can be located at the back of your head or your temples.

Treatment Options

Luckily there are treatments available to help manage whiplash. Options may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, ice/heat therapy, and cervical collars for extra support when sleeping or resting. If symptoms persist for more than a few months, additional treatment options, such as steroid injections, may be considered by your doctor.

Spondylosis, or Arthritis in the Neck

Arthritis in the neck, also referred to as spondylosis is one of the most common types of neck problems. It’s caused by the gradual loss of cushioning between disks, which leads to bones grinding against each other. This can occur even when you don’t have any other neck issues.

The most common cause for this type of neck problem is age-related wear and tear; it’s a condition that usually develops over time as part of the aging process. Other causes can include trauma from whiplash or an accident, poor posture, and genetics.

Symptoms of Spondylosis, or Arthritis in the Neck

Common symptoms of spondylosis, or arthritis in the neck, include chronic pain in the neck and shoulders and stiffness when trying to turn your head. You may also experience numbness or tingling in your arms and legs and headaches.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for spondylosis or arthritis in the neck include physical therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, heat therapy, and even steroid injections if necessary. In rare cases, when all else fails, surgery may be recommended by your doctor to remove excess vertebral material causing a pinched nerve.

Contact Carolina Spine & Pain for Neck Pain Treatment 

Are you suffering from neck pain? Don’t wait any longer—get the help of a neck pain specialist today! Contact Carolina Spine & Pain Centers and schedule an appointment if you’re looking for relief. With personalized care and state-of-the-art treatments, we can help you get back to feeling like yourself again.

We have the tools available to diagnose and treat common neck problems at our pain centers in South Carolina. Our team of experts provides comprehensive assessments and evidence-based treatments so you can get back to living a healthy, active life.

Call us today at 864-513-8950 or contact us online to book your appointment. We are here for you.