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Neck and Arm Pain

Neck pain is a common pain syndrome and complaint for a large portion of the population at any age. Neck pain can make performing the simplest tasks extremely difficult. Any pain or movement limitation in the neck can be severely disabling. The pain starts in the neck and can be associated with pain radiating down one or both arms. If there is a problem in the cervical spine, it can cause pain in the neck as well as numbness and weakness in the arms. Several disorders or diseases can cause neck pain and involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments or muscles. Abnormal muscle spasms can also contribute to pain in the neck and arm. If you experience arm pain along with neck pain, it is called cervical radiculopathy. More than one problem can be contributing to your neck pain, and this increases with age.

Several disorders and diseases can affect the cervical spine and may be the potential cause of the neck pain. There are several causes for this, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Whiplash injury
  • Spondylosis
  • Pinched nerve
  • Bone spurs
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Herniated and bulging discs
  • Disc degeneration
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Strain or trauma

Pressure on a nerve root or spinal cord by a herniated disc or bone spur may result in neck pain. along with:

  • Pain in the arm
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm
  • Tingling in the fingers or hand
  • Weakness in the arms or legs

Identifying the underlying cause of your neck and arm pain is key for proper diagnosis and optimal treatment. Some patients may undergo imaging studies if medications are ineffective. Diagnostic imaging tests may include:

  • Discography
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT scan)
  • Nerve conduction Studies (NCS)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Myelogram
  • X-rays

Most causes of neck pain are not life threating and improve with conservative medical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment strategies for neck and arm pain depends mainly on identifying the location and cause of the pain. The doctor might prescribe medications to relive symptoms of the pain or inflammation and muscle relaxants to allow time for healing to occur. Nonsurgical treatment options such as physical therapy, cervical spine traction, medications, and neck movement exercises may help treat neck pain. However, reducing physical activities and reducing mobility of the neck can decrease pain and irritation. If you are experiencing any weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, seek medical attention immediately

Seek medical care if the conservative treatments fail to relieve your symptoms. If the conservative treatments fail to improve symptoms and provide relief, surgery may be needed. There are different surgical procedures which can be utilized, depending on the factors. Several factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease, age, how long the patient has had the disorder, and other medical conditions. Surgeries designed to relive neck and arm pain include cervical discectomy or a cervical artificial disc replacement and spinal fusion


The contents contained within this page are not a substitute for health professionals’ advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We advise that you seek advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner. We fully disclose that any surgical or invasive procedures come with risks.

For more details on how to relieve or treat chronic pain, you can reach out to one of our pain specialists at any of our pain care clinic locations. We establish a caring relationship and provide patients with pain relief when needed the most.