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Learn about your neck pain when turning the head, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your neck pain when turning the head from our A.I. Symptom Checker. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Your Neck Pain When Turning the Head May Also be Known as:
Painful turning head
Painful turning neck
Sore turning head
Sore turning neck
Turning head ache
Turning head discomfort
Turning head hurts
Turning head pain
Turning head soreness
Turning neck ache

Top 10 Neck Pain When Turning the Head Causes

  1. 1.Neck Sprain

    The neck is made up of 7 bones held together by muscles and ligaments. Any stretch of these muscles or ligaments causes a sprain, which will cause pain and affect your ability to move the neck.

    You can treat a neck sprain like most sprains - rest (a neck collar if necessary), ice (for 10-20 minutes at a time), pain relievers (like ibuprofen), and gentle massage.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, difficulty moving the neck, neck pain
    Symptoms that always occur with neck sprain:
    pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that never occur with neck sprain:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  2. 2.Pinched Nerve in the Neck

    With age, disks separating the cervical vertebrae (which are the bones of your spine in your neck) lose height as well as lose water content, becoming stiffer. The vertebrae move closer together, and nerves that exit between these bones may be pinched, causing pain to travel down the nerve as it passes through the arm. The pain is usually sharp, and some people report a "pins and needles" sensation or even complete numbness.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate your care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon). Cervical radiculopathy is treated with pain medication, soft neck collars, and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain
    Symptoms that always occur with pinched nerve in the neck:
    pain that radiates down arm
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This is a complex condition to treat, because the causes are not always clear. Treatment may include resting the jaw with a soft diet, pain medications, and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, history of headaches, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, pain in the back of the neck, jaw pain
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibiular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic musculoskeletal syndrome caused by trigger points within muscle. Pressure on these points causes pain in the area around the point as well as in other body parts, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This complex chronic condition is often treated with injections and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, shoulder blade pain, difficulty moving the shoulder
    Symptoms that always occur with myofascial pain syndrome:
    tender muscle knot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

    Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is the compression of the nerves and/or blood vessels that run through the upper chest. It can occur as a result of trauma, surgery, growths in the body, or just randomly.

    You should seek medical care soon to determine whether the compression is of the nerve or the blood vessels. You may need imaging using x-rays, CTs of the blood streams, or MRIs. Treatment depends on the extent of the injury, but usually includes physical therapy. Surgical treatment may be required if a blood vessel is compressed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, arm weakness, pain in one shoulder blade, arm numbness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  6. 6.Non - Specific Neck Pain

    Neck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include the muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), and the disks between the bones. This may not have an identifiable cause.

    Your neck pain looks like it is variation of normal, which does not require any treatment. You can take an over the counter pain medication like Tylenol.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    neck pain, mild neck pain, pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific neck pain:
    neck pain
    Symptoms that never occur with non-specific neck pain:
    severe neck pain, neck pain from an injury, fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a specialist. RA is a complex disease, which can require prescription medication to help slow down the damage to your joints, as well as pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Anaprox and Naprosyn). Exercise, especially swimming, can also help with pain and stiffness.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, muscle aches, joint pain, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

    Impingement syndrome is a common shoulder condition seen in aging adults. The tendons of rotator cuff muscles, whose action is to rotate the arm such such as during a tennis swing, pass in a narrow space between two bones in the shoulder. When the space becomes too narrow, which can happen as a result of an overuse injury, pain may develop as the tendons rub against the bones.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon). Treatments for impingement syndrome involve rest, over-the-counter pain medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, and surgery in rare, serious cases.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, dull, achy shoulder pain, shoulder pain that gets worse at night, difficulty moving the shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse
    Symptoms that always occur with rotator cuff tendonitis:
    pain in one shoulder
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Heart Attack in a Woman

    Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

    You should call 911.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, abdominal pain (stomach ache), pain in one arm, being severely ill, shortness of breath
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  10. 10.Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Upper Back

    The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

    For treatment of a slipped disk, you should consult with your primary care physician (PCP). Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination to localize the slipped disk and rule out dangerous complications. Most people do not require surgery for a slipped disk. Treatment involves pain relief with an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol), using heat treatments, and keeping active. It is best to avoid sitting still for long periods. Walking or swimming may help as well.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    upper back pain, neck pain, arm weakness, back pain that gets worse when sitting, upper spine pain
    Symptoms that always occur with herniated (slipped) disk in the upper back:
    upper back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Neck Pain When Turning the Head

  • Q.How long has your neck pain been going on?
  • Q.Is the neck pain affecting:
  • Q.How severe is your neck pain?
  • Q.Do you have any idea what may have caused your neck pain?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our neck pain when turning the head symptom checker.

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Neck Pain When Turning the Head Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced neck pain when turning the head have also experienced:

    • 12% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 10% Pain in One Shoulder Blade
    • 6% Pain in the Back of the Neck
  • People who have experienced neck pain when turning the head had symptoms persist for:

    • 28% Less Than a Week
    • 27% Over a Month
    • 26% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced neck pain when turning the head were most often matched with:

    • 44% Neck Sprain
    • 15% Pinched Nerve in the Neck
    • 10% Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

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