The article was reviewed medically in the hands of Michelle Mielke, P.h.D. A physician of epidemiology, and a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, in October 2022.

Sometimes moving your head just doesn’t feel right. Whether you slept on the wrong pillow or sat in a hunched position for too long, neck pain causes can be obvious—but sometimes the reason for your hurting neck is more mysterious.

Although a majority of neck pains will be identified as strain and structural pain Certain causes are worthy of the attention of a specialist. How do we determine the difference between a neck ache and when it’s time to visit a doctor?

We talked with experts in neck pain management Medhat Mikhael M.D., medical director of the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center’s Spine Health Center, and Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in LA for a discussion of what the possibility of neck pain be, what treatment options are available and when you should see specialists.

What causes neck the cause of neck

Neck pain is usually described as neck pain or discomfort region, according to Doctor. Mikahel. Dr. Mikahel explains that the discomfort occurs whenever you move your neck in all directions as well as “sometimes the pain could be related to your shoulders, shoulder blades, or through your arms.”

Neck pain is often caused by common reasons. discomfort


The most commonly-cited and easy reasons for neck discomfort are precisely what you would expect them to be related to stress. “Stress and overwork can cause the neck muscles to tighten up or spasm, and also result in the shoulders tightening up,” says Dr. Mikhael. He says that the stress could trigger nerves located in back of the head. back of your head. This can trigger headaches that is why some migraines cause neck pain as well.

Incorrect alignment

In a hotel, sleeping on mattresses or pillows that are different than what we’re familiar with, or driving as well as working for long hours with the same neck posture can be the reason that we experience neck discomfort. These conditions can result in muscles being tight and spasming, as well as tension on neck’s nerves which can cause discomfort.

Degenerative changes

The majority of neck discomfort could be due in part to the degenerative process, according to the doctor. Anand. The position of our vertebrae changes as we age, and it’s completely normal. Sometimes, it can mean you feel a bit of tension over your spinal nerves and you may sense a slight discomfort inside your neck.

Doctor. Mikhael explains that as we age the discs of our vertebrae deteriorate and flatten, which puts pressure on nerves from time time. This is why “ligaments close to our spinal cord may get thicker over time due to arthritis, and this combination of discs becoming less flexible and our ligaments becoming thicker results in a narrowing of our spinal canal, which puts stress on our spinal cord” Dr. Mikhael explains.

These are all normal, natural and natural changes that take place to our necks with time injuries, such as an injury from a sports fall or a car crash could also cause disc herniation and neck pain.

The most common causes of neck discomfort

A pinched nerve

If you’re looking for more severe and long-lasting issues in neck-related pain one thing neurologists and pain specialists will be looking for is radicular pain according to Doctor. Mikhael. Radicular pain is a kind of pain that extends the neck to through your back and hips into your legs through your spine. This type of pain happens due to the spinal nerve is compressed (pinched) or inflamed.

Compressed Myelopathy/Spinal Cord

If, in addition to neck discomfort, you’re also experiencing intense pains in your arms and shoulders occasionally, Numbness or tingling in your arms or hands as well as pain or weakness on your legs you could be experiencing something more severe. The neck area in the cervical spine it is it is the spinal canal is essential to keep in good condition, according to the doctor Dr. Mikhael. Dr. Mikhael warns you that you must avoid any tension or pressure on the cord, and you must be careful to avoid injury on the spinal cord.

If a portion that is compressed, and may start to break and cause neurological injuries, like myelopathy, a traumatic injury to the spinal cord that is caused by severe compression, which could be a consequence of disc degeneration or disc herniation auto-immune disorders, or any other trauma. “If you notice weakness in your legs or arms and legs, it could be necessary to undergo surgery to ease tension on your spinal cord to ensure that you do avoid long-term injury,” says Dr. Mikhael.

How can you treat neck pain?

The discomfort of neck pain without other signs, like radiating pain, generally doesn’t require the services of a specialist. “If you notice that you are experiencing neck pain and the pain is in your arms and shoulders too, relax. If the pain is gone it’s likely to be an episode of acute neck pain,” says Dr. Mikhael. According to specialists, the following are the ways to find relief from your neck discomfort:

  • Relaxation and rest
  • Use anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen) whenever needed.
  • Massage therapy
  • Use of muscle relaxants in a temporary manner when prescribed by an experienced doctor

If you can pinpoint the cause of the neck pain and it’s not a serious issue the likelihood is that it will get better over time.

When is the right time to visit an acupuncturist about neck pain?

If neck pain doesn’t seem to be getting better and you’re having to take pain pills daily, or if you notice any discomfort or weakness in your legs or arms is the time to have your legs evaluated by a doctor. Note that similar symptoms of weakness in your legs and arms could be a sign of a heart attack or other serious health issues and you should seek medical attention if you suspect that a pinched nerve could be the reason.

“If symptoms persist after taking painkillers, rest, relaxation techniques, massage and so on. If the pain is intense and growing worse, be evaluated by a neurologist quickly,” advises Dr. Mikhael. He says that to determine the root of the pain, your physician may recommend imaging tests, like x-rays or MRIs to ensure there’s nothing that needs surgery or otherwise.

“Treatment is a variable process so not all neck ache requires a neck surgeon” claims Dr. Mikhael. But you should not overlook the persistent and progressive pain that comes either from the neck or back. Importantly, if feel you are suffering from leg or arm weakening or being unstable, but you don’t have neck pain, it is important to seek out a medical professional.