Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by injury, stress or by other health problems, including some that may have serious consequences. Follow this chart if you have been suffering from pain, stiffness, soreness or cramps in the neck.

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Have you been involved in an accident that involved your neck?

  • Are you having pain or numbness down your shoulder, arms or legs?

  • Has pain come on slowly over a few hours after the accident?

  • Do you have a fever, stiff neck, vomiting, and does light hurt your eyes?

  • Do you have throbbing pain or numbness down your shoulder or into your arm?

  • Do you have a stiff neck or are you having trouble moving your neck without pain?

  • Did you have a whiplash-type injury in the past, or do you have pain and/or stiffness every day in your neck, hands, knees, hips or other joints?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    This may be MUSCLE SPASM or a BURNER, but it also may be an injury to the SPINAL CORD.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away. If your doctor diagnoses your problem as muscle spasm or a burner, use over-the counter medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain, and apply heat to the sore area, as recommended by the doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    MUSCLE ACHES and SPASMS usually develop minutes to hours after an injury.


    Self Care

    Use anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, to relieve pain and discomfort, and apply heat to the sore area. See your doctor if your pain gets worse or lasts for several days without getting better.


  • Diagnosis

    Your symptoms may be from a simple viral illness or from MENINGITIS, a more serious infection around the brain.


    Self Care

    EMERGENCY
    See your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a HERNIATED CERVICAL DISK, when part of the center portion of the spine presses against a nerve. It may also be from MUSCLE SPASM.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Use over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain, and apply heat to the sore area. If your symptoms came on suddenly, see your doctor right away.


  • Diagnosis

    Your pain is probably from MUSCLE SPASM, but also may be from RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, an inflammatory joint disease, or FIBROMYALGIA, a chronic condition affecting muscles and tendons.


    Self Care

    Use anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, and apply heat to the sore area. See your doctor if the pain or stiffness gets worse or doesn’t get better.


  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from DEGENERATIVE CERVICAL ARTHRITIS, a disorder that affects the bones and cartilage in the neck.


    Self Care

    Use anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. See your doctor if the pain or stiffness gets worse or doesn’t get better.


  • Diagnosis


    Self Care

    Use anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. See your doctor if the pain or stiffness gets worse or doesn’t get better.