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Chronic Neck Pain
(Neck Pain, Chronic)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Chronic neck pain is pain in the neck over a long period of time. It can last more than 3 months. The pain can range from mild to severe.
A number of problems can cause chronic neck pain, such as problems with the muscles, nerves, or bones.
Risk Factors TOP
Here are some factors that may increase your risk:
You may have neck stiffness. Pain may be worse when moving your neck. The pain can be any type of pain, such as burning, sharp, dull, and tingling. The pain may spread to other parts of the body such as the head, shoulders, and arms.
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist. Orthopedists help people with their bones and joints. A neurologist or neurosurgeon helps people with their nerves and spinal cord.
Pictures of your spine may be needed. This can be done with:
Your nerves and muscles may need to be tested. This can be done using electromyography (EMG).
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Here are some options:
Activity and Exercise
You may be able to lower your pain by staying active and exercising. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist. A therapist may work on strength exercises and stretching.
There are many kinds of medicine that may be used to help your neck pain.
Other Treatments TOP
Here are some other ways to treat neck pain:
To help reduce your chance of neck pain:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Accessed June 11, 2018.
Neck pain. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
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Updated December 2013. Accessed June 11, 2018.
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11/11/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Kroeling P, Gross A, Graham N, et al. Electrotherapy for neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;8:CD004251.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 9/3/2015
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