Chronic Neck Pain Causes

Neck pain causes

Chronic neck pain has many different causes. However, it’s a common condition. It creates discomfort in the structures of the neck. Chronic neck pain is the third most common type of pain within the United States according to the American Pain Foundation. The current estimation is that 70% will experience some sort of neck pain within their lifetime.

Neck pain causes vary from person to person. Some common causes associated with neck pain are:

  • muscle strain
  • bone spurs
  • a degenerative disc disease
  • spinal stenosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • poor posture/incorrect posture
  • neck tissue diseases or disorder (whiplash or neck strain, for example)
  • small fractures due to osteoporosis in the spine
  • infection or sprains in the spine
  • a ruptured disc
  • herniated discs
  • meningitis
  • muscle sprains

These neck pain causes can range from the dullest sense to a feeling of electric shock in severity. The pain itself can be mild, severe, or somewhere in between depending on the symptoms and cause itself. While most neck pains will last between a few hours and a few days, the pain is considered chronic when it lasts for more than a few weeks consistently. Symptoms that can accompany neck pains include muscle spasms, neck stiffness, and tenderness if the pain is acute. However, if the pain is chronic or will be considered chronic, symptoms could include headaches, fevers, redness, and/or swelling.

Neck pain treatment and methods can vary. It all depends on the underlying causes for the best treatment. Identifying the cause quickly and correctly is key in getting quick relief for the pain and for helping the patient keep the pain from interfering with their lives. All aspects of the pain should be understood so that the neck pain treatment can be personalized to the patient. Frequency, severity, and other prominent symptoms should be taken into consideration once known. For a healthcare center to be reliable for a patient, services from pain management specialists and physical therapists, as well as doctors that can make a correct diagnosis, should be available. The availability of complete physical exams and radiological evaluations should also be considered and offered.

A sedentary lifestyle has been often linked to and associated with neck pain, particularly a prevalent pain in the neck. The other side to this coin is that those who are physically active during leisure or relaxation time can be associated with double the chance for no neck pain at all.

Treatment approaches could include:

  • steroid injections – injection of steroids to lower inflammation
  • exercise – improves strength, range of motion, mobility; could include stretching, isometric, and aerobic exercises. Exercising regularly can had a decreased risk of neck pain and chronic pain.
  • chiropractic care – manual manipulation of the spin to offer relief from pain. It can also restore body movement, strengthen the body, increase the flexibility of the patient, and prevent injury.

Other neck pain treatments could be the prescription of NSAIDs – a specific anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen or oral steroids are good examples of what could be prescribed to the patient. The patient could also be referred to a massage therapist. The reasoning behind this is to help improve blood circulation or relax tight muscles. This is done with deep pressure application or the gentle manipulation of the area. Despite the common appearance of neck pain, selecting the right kind of treatment can help prevent the recurrences that many are prone to.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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