5 common causes for chronic neck pain

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Feb 21, 2023, 12:17 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2023, 11:58 am

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)

PHOENIX — Neck pain can debilitate one’s ability to play sports, focus on work or generally go about their daily routine.

Yet approximately 80% of people experience neck pain in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it each year.

Symptoms can include sharp pain in one area, soreness, tenderness and pulsations which may cause limited range of motion, back pain or trouble swallowing.

The neck produces more movement than any other body part in the body, and while most neck pain is temporary, constant discomfort may be facilitated by an underlying health issue.

Axial or mechanical neck pain is the most common ailment people experience, which impacts a single region without moving.

Five causes of neck pain:

Pinched nerve or herniated disc

A pinched nerve occurs when nerves in the cervical spine become compressed and cause pain.

They most commonly occur in the neck or lower back, and adults 45-54 years old are most susceptible.

Pinched nerves have several causes including age-related degeneration and poor posture.

Sensations associated with pinched nerves include cramping, sharp pains and weakness in extremities.

Treatments include rest, medication or therapeutic pain injections. For more severe cases, minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery or a Cervical Total Disc Arthroplasty (TDR) are great options. A TDR removes all the damaged disc, like an ACDF.

However, unlike an ACDF, the spine surgeon places an artificial disc implant that restores motion to the spinal segment.

Studies have shown that the cervical TDR maintains more natural biomechanics within the cervical spine and puts less stress on the discs above and below the surgical site than an ACDF.


It is common to experience whiplash after sudden back-and-forth motions which may cause injury to bones, muscles, tendons and nerves around the spine.

These injuries can occur from automobile collisions, sports like boxing or hockey, physical altercations or blunt force to the head from a heavy object.

Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck or shoulders, headaches, dizziness and loss of neck mobility.

Treatments depend on severity. Physicians recommend rest, heating and cooling the area, over-the-counter medications, neck stability collars and physical therapy with surgery an option for more severe cases — such as a ruptured or herniated intervertebral disc.


Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage resulting in bone–on-bone rubbing during movement. The body will try to heal itself and inflame the joint.

Stiffness, grinding and swelling are common symptoms.

There are surgical and less invasive treatments for osteoarthritis, including medications and physical therapy.

Surgical options include artificial disc replacement surgery and endoscopic spine surgery.

Degenerative disc disease

Wear and tear of joints over time, lifting, a family history of spinal issues or spinal injuries can cause arthritis.

Approximately 60% of people over 65 deal with degenerative disc disease, which in most cases does not cause debilitating symptoms. Rest, medications, neck braces and physical therapy are popular treatments.

Those with persistent severe pain may choose a surgical solution.

Awkward sleeping position

Sleeping issues cause up to 5% cases of chronic neck pain, as sleeping in an awkward position can put strain on one’s spine.

Avoiding sleeping on one’s stomach, using better pillows and keeping a straight back are strategies to avoid an unpleasant sensation in the morning that can last for days.

Chronic neck pain does not always only affect one physically but may also cause psychological issues like depression, anxiety and long-term stress.

The Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona also known as DISC recommends seeking medical attention if neck pain is followed by weakness, numbness or tingling; worsens despite self-care treatments; continues after several weeks or radiates down the arms or legs.

DISC treats a range of spinal conditions, offering cervical artificial disc replacement, nonsurgical options and and minimally invasive spine surgery. Those experiencing chronic neck pain can schedule a consultation appointment at their Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale or Gilbert locations or find contact information online.

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care


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5 common causes for chronic neck pain