Neck pain - diagnosis and treatment (2023)



Your doctor will take a medical history and conduct an examination. The examination includes checking for tenderness, numbness, and muscle weakness. And it tests how far you can move your head forward, back, and side-to-side.

Imaging tests

Imaging procedures can help to find the cause of the neck pain. Examples include:

  • X-rays.X-rays can reveal areas in the neck where the nerves or spinal cord may be pinched by bone spurs or other changes.
  • CT-Scan.CT scans combine X-ray images taken from many different directions to create detailed, cross-sectional views of structures inside the neck.
  • MRT.MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of bones and soft tissues. The soft tissues include the intervertebral discs, the spinal cord, and the nerves coming from the spinal cord.

It's possible to have X-ray or MRI evidence of structural problems in the neck without having symptoms. Imaging studies are best used with a careful history and physical exam to determine the cause of the pain.

Andere Tests

  • Electromyography (EMG).An EMG can determine if neck pain could be related to a pinched nerve. Fine needles are inserted through the skin into a muscle. The test measures nerve conduction speed to determine if nerves are functioning properly.
  • blood tests.Blood tests can sometimes provide clues about inflammation or infection that can cause or contribute to neck pain.

More information

  • CT-Scan
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • MRT
  • X-ray
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The most common types of mild to moderate neck pain usually respond to self-treatment within two or three weeks. Painkillers and the use of heat might be all that is needed.


Pain relievers may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Take these medications only as directed. Overuse can cause serious side effects.

If pain relievers you can buy without a prescription don't help, your doctor may suggest a prescriptionNSAIDsor muscle relaxers.


  • Physical therapy.A physical therapist can teach exercises for proper posture, alignment, and neck strengthening. Physical therapy may also involve the use of heat, ice, and other pain relief measures.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).Electrodes placed on the skin near the painful areas deliver tiny electrical pulses that can relieve pain. However, there is little evidence for thisTENworks for neck pain.
  • Soft collar.A soft collar that supports the neck can help relieve pain by taking pressure off the neck. However, if used for more than three hours at a time, or for more than 1 to 2 weeks, a collar can do more harm than good.

Surgical and other procedures

  • steroid injections.A healthcare provider may inject steroid medications near the nerve roots, into the spinal joints, or into the muscles of the neck. Numbing medications like lidocaine can also be injected to relieve neck pain.
  • Operation.Surgery, which is rarely needed for neck pain, may be an option to relieve nerve root or spinal cord compression.

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lifestyle and home remedies

Aside from taking pain relievers, self-care measures that might ease neck pain include:

  • Alternating heat and cold.Reduce inflammation by applying cold, e.g. B. an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Then use heat. Try taking a warm shower or using a heating pad on a low setting.
  • home exercisesIt's important to keep your neck moving. Begin daily gentle stretches, including neck rolls and shoulder rolls, as soon as the worst of the pain subsides. Gently bend, bend and twist your neck. Warm up your neck and back with a heating pad or in the shower or bath before doing these exercises.

alternative medicine

A number of alternative treatments could relieve back pain. Always discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before beginning any new alternative therapy.

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  • Acupuncture.A practitioner of acupuncture inserts thin, sterilized needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Multiple acupuncture sessions may be required to achieve the best results. Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a board-certified physician using sterile needles.
  • Chiropractor.A chiropractic adjustment is performed primarily on the spine and applies a controlled, abrupt force to a joint. Chiropractic treatments of the neck can provide short-term pain relief and pose minimal risk for many people.
  • Massage.During a massage, a trained practitioner kneads the neck muscles. Massage could help people with chronic neck pain from tight muscles.

Prepare for your appointment

You might first see your GP about your neck pain. You could then be referred to:

  • A doctor specializing in the non-surgical treatment of diseases of the musculoskeletal system (specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
  • A doctor who specializes in arthritis and other diseases affecting the joints (rheumatologist)
  • A doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system (neurologist)
  • A doctor who operates on bones and joints (orthopaedist)

What you can do

Before your appointment, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • When did your symptoms start?
  • Have you ever hurt your neck? If so, when?
  • Do certain neck movements improve or worsen the pain?
  • What medications and dietary supplements do you take regularly?

What to expect from your doctor

Your provider might ask some of the following questions:

  • where exactly is your pain
  • Is the pain dull, sharp, or stabbing?
  • Do you have deafness or weakness?
  • Is the pain radiating down your arm?
  • Does the pain worsen with exertion, coughing or sneezing?
  • Do you have other physical problems?

By Mayo Clinic staff

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25. August 2022


  1. neck pain. American College of Rheumatology. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  2. Isaac Z, et al. Evaluation of the adult patient with neck pain. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  3. Miller M, et al., eds. Degenerative diseases of the cervical and thoracic spine. In DeLee, Drez, and Miller's Orthopedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Elsevier, 2020. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  4. neck pain. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  5. Isaac Z. Management of nonradicular neck pain in adults. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  6. neck pain. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  7. Kazeminasab S. et al. Neck Pain: Global Epidemiology, Trends, and Risk Factors. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2022; doi:10.1186/s12891-021-04957-4.
  8. Too much screen time? Sit up straight to avoid a painful tech neck. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. Retrieved June 30, 2022.


Associated Procedures

  • CT-Scan
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • MRT
  • X-ray

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