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

Neck Pain Checker

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Top 5 Neck Pain Causes

  1. 1.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
  2. 2.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

    Neck Pain Checker

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  3. 3.Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.

    Fibromyalgia is treated symptomatically. Medication, therapy, and stress reduction may reduce symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    hidden: arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Cellulitis

    Neck cellulitis is a skin infection that typically comes from other parts of the face like the mouth or the sinuses and needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.

    You should seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care within a day or two, to start antibiotic treatment and to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    neck redness, trouble swallowing, neck pain, painful neck swelling
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    neck redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Ludwig's Angina

    Ludwig angina is a bacterial infection of the floor of the mouth and occurs beneath the tongue.

    You should visit an emergency room immediately. This requires immediate antibiotic treatment and, in some cases, surgery.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, shortness of breath, being severely ill, trouble swallowing, neck pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

FAQs About Neck Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about neck pain.

Can stress and anxiety cause neck pain?

Yes, stress and anxiety can cause many people to habitually raise their shoulders. This raising of the shoulders can strain the trapezius and deltoid muscles of the back and shoulders, and the strain on those muscles can cause back pain — especially around the neck.

Why do I have neck pain on one side?

Neck pain on one side is commonly caused by postural (positional) changes. For example, sleeping in an incorrect position can cause muscle pain on one side. Alternatively, a muscle spasm or muscle lock can cause an inability to fully range — turn the neck to either side. The neck can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, or, if it does not respond, with mild muscle relaxants.

When should you seek medical attention for neck pain?

You should seek medical attention if neck or back pain is accompanied by any loss or change in neurological function. This includes but is not limited to changes in vision, sensation along any part of the body, or ability to move. Neck stiffness and sensitivity to light are particularly worrisome signs, especially following a cough, cold or flu-like illness and should warrant immediate evaluation.

Can neck pain cause headaches?

Neck pain, especially tight neck muscles, can trigger both migraine headaches and tension headaches. Stress may be a connecting factor as it can cause muscle tension which triggers a headache. Most headaches and neck pain are caused by common stress, but any change in neurological status should warrant evaluation by a medical professional.

Why do I wake up with neck pain?

The most common cause of morning neck pain is sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Adjust your sleeping position or pillows and see if that helps with your neck pain. Neck pain may also be caused by teeth grinding or bruxism. It may strain the muscles of the jaw and even loosen teeth causing neck pain, headaches, or jaw pain.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Neck Pain

  • Q.Is your neck pain constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.How severe is your neck pain?
  • Q.How long has your neck pain been going on?
  • Q.Do you have a sore throat?

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

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Neck Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced neck pain have also experienced:

    • 8% Headache
    • 8% Back Pain
    • 4% Fever

Neck Pain Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having neck pain.

Take a quiz