Read below about severe neck pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your severe 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.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Severe Neck Pain

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced severe neck pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  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.

    Most neck sprains get better within a few weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, pain in the back of the neck, shoulder pain, 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.Fibromyalgia

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

    Fibromyalgia is generally a lifelong condition

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.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.

    Majority of patients get better with time (weeks to months).

    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
    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.

    Resolution of pain is dependent on type of treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, tender muscle knot, general numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with myofascial pain syndrome:
    tender muscle knot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Severe Neck Pain Checker

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

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  5. 5.Wryneck

    Wryneck is a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side, while the chin is turned to the other.

    1-4 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    neck pain on one side, difficulty moving the neck, constant neck pain, pain that causes the neck to bend
    Symptoms that always occur with wryneck:
    pain that causes the neck to bend, neck pain on one side, constant neck pain
    Symptoms that never occur with wryneck:
    neck pain that shoots to the arm, arm weakness, arm numbness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Tension Headache (First Onset)

    Tension-type headaches are the most common type of headache. It is pain or discomfort in the head and/or neck. It's often associated with muscle tightness in these areas. This condition can occur as little as once a year (infrequent) but as often as more than 15 days per month (chronic). The cause of tension-type headaches is not clear.

    Tension headache symptoms usually resolve within a few hours but can last up to a week. However, if this particular episode is unusually severe or debilitating, you may want to see a doctor urgently.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    new headache, nausea or vomiting, moderate headache, loss of appetite, mild headache
    Symptoms that always occur with tension headache (first onset):
    new headache
    Symptoms that never occur with tension headache (first onset):
    photo and phonophobia, throbbing headache, headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.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.

    The pain associated with a slipped disk usually goes away within six weeks. If the pain lasts longer, consult a doctor. They may send you to see a back specialist for an MRI of your spine, and surgery may be considered.

    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
  8. 8.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.

    RA is a chronic disease which requires lifelong control.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Bacterial Meningitis

    Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It is a serious infection as it may affect the nervous system.

    Meningitis is a very serious disease and recovery is variable.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, nausea, being severely ill, fever
    Symptoms that always occur with bacterial meningitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Severe Neck Pain

  • Q.Do you have any idea what may have caused your neck pain?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Can you fully move your neck in every direction?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

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

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Severe Neck Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced severe neck pain have also experienced:

    • 6% Headache
    • 4% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 3% Throbbing Headache
  • People who have experienced severe neck pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 27% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced severe neck pain were most often matched with:

    • 37% Fibromyalgia
    • 37% Pinched Nerve in the Neck
    • 25% Neck Sprain
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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