Neck pain can be quite a common problem in the general population, and can affect roughly 2/3 of the population at some time in their life. Although neck pain is typically felt in the neck, it can be caused by other problems not originating from the spine. Additional structures that can give rise to neck pain include muscular, nerve, vascular, airway, and digestive or be referred from other areas of the body. Some skeletal problems causing neck pain may include herniated discs, spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, facet arthropathy, or prior surgeries causing adhesions. Pain can vary to dull, achy, waxing and waning pain to sharp, shooting, stabbing pain with radiation into one or both extremities. Patients may even experience numbness and tingling into the fingers.
The diagnosis of neck pain requires an extensive work up by your doctor including a history and physical examination. Additional testing may be required by your doctor to aid in the diagnosis of the pain generator including electromyography (EMG), X-rays, CT scans, and MRI imaging.