What is neck pain?

Neck pain is pain in or around the spine beneath your head, known as the cervical spine. Neck pain is a common symptom of many different injuries and medical conditions.

You might have axial neck pain (felt mostly in the neck) or radicular neck pain (pain shoots into other areas such as the shoulders or arms). It can be acute (lasting from days to up to 6 weeks) or chronic (lasts longer than 3 months to years).

Neck pain can interfere with daily activities and reduce your quality of life if left untreated.

Who is affected by neck pain?

Neck pain is very common. It occurs in about one out of three people at least once a year. It is more common in women than in men, and your chance of developing it increases with age.

What does neck pain feel like?

Some people describe the pain as:

  • A persistent ache.
  • A stabbing or burning pain.
  • Increased sensitivity to mild pressure applied to neck.
  • Neck pain plus headache and numbness or tingling in one or both arms.
  • Increased tension/tightening in the muscles in the neck.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/12/2019.

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