neck pain


Pain in the neck can have a variety of causes.
Mainly, postural problems and chronically overworked, tense muscles cause discomfort in the neck area.,

With age, signs of wear on the cervical spine come to the fore. This often causes not only neck pain but often the mobility of the neck is also limited.

Causes of neck pain

Medically, neck pain can be classified into four categories depending on how it is produced:

  • Mechanically triggered neck pain
  • non-mechanical neck pain
  • Transmission pain and
  • mentally induced neck pain

1. Mechanically triggered neck pain

Most commonly, neck pain is mechanically induced, which means tension and malfunction of the neck muscles or signs of wear on the soft structures of the cervical spine (such as discs or ligaments) or hard, bony structures such as the vertebrae.

Mechanically induced pain in the neck can also be due

  • Injuries like whiplash
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Spine instabilities or
  • Malformations of the cervical spine (eg scoliosis)

occurrence. Neck stiffness can be an indicative symptom of meningitis ( meningitis ) or meningeal irritation, as it leads to a reflex tension of the neck muscles. The sensitive and inflamed meninges forces the neck to be well-kept, as every movement causes severe pain in the neck or head.

Furthermore you can

  • Wear on the intervertebral discs ( chondrosis and osteochondrosis) and vertebrae ( spondylosis )
  • Injuries and
  • dysfunction

lead to mechanical restrictions in the neck area and thus to neck pain. The pain is often one-sided and radiates up to the shoulder. Misbehavior in everyday life and at work (eg years of computer or overhead work) favor these mechanical complaints. In the small joints between the vertebrae (so-called facet joints ) blockages can occur, then it comes especially after periods of rest to a neck stiffness. The facet joints can also inflame and cause pain, which often radiate in the shoulder and arm.

The pain is not caused by irritated nerve roots on the spinal cord ( radicular pain cause ), but by the inflamed joints ( pseudoradicular pain cause ). This can lead to emotional disorders such as tingling and numbness. Complex changes in the cervical spine or circulatory disturbances of head-pulling blood vessels can cause neck pain that goes back to the back of the head. In addition, symptoms like

  • dizziness
  • Ears of the ears or
  • Eyelashes occur.

2. not mechanical neck pain

The non-mechanical neck pain caused by disorders of the small vertebral joints in the cervical spine and by certain diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis ( rheumatism ), Bechterew's disease and a number of similar conditions in the area of ​​so-called seronegative spondyloarthropathies can lead to pain in the neck area.

Equally rare are neurological disorders such as nerve paralysis and spinal cord lesions. Inflammatory muscular rheumatism (eg polymyalgia rheumatica ) can cause not only neck, shoulder and hip pain but also painful inflammation of the shoulder joints as well as on the wrists of women over the age of 50 years.

In addition to diseases of the cervical and neck area, shoulder joint diseases such as osteoarthritis of the shoulder, inflammation of the shoulder bursa, tears of the stabilizing shoulder tendons or other shoulder injuries can also cause pain in the neck.

3. transmission pain

Neck pain can also occur in pathological processes in certain organs in the sense of transmission pain. In addition, chronic neck pain is often classified in the group of transmission pain, as in the tense and hardened muscles so-called trigger points are close to pain fibers ( nociceptors ) lie, which are switched to continuous operation and lead to the spread of pain.

4. Mentally triggered neck pain

Not infrequently, neck pain can also have a psychological cause (especially chronic recurring neck pain ) or be aggravated by mental stress. Strong stress at work or in everyday life promote tension and quickly lead to pain in the neck area.
Also in the so-called fibromyalgia syndrome, a complex disease with multiple pain points on the body and other symptoms, suspected among other things, psychological triggers for the neck pain.

Also, internal diseases such as coronary heart disease in angina pectoris or a heart attack ( myocardial infarction ) can cause shoulder or neck pain.

Neck pain after fall

A fall can cause neck pain, depending on the nature of the fall. These often occur in a fall on the head or on the shoulder. Basically, after such a fall always a doctor should be visited. Neck pain in conjunction with a fall can be a sign of dangerous consequences.

For example, these often occur when whiplash is present. There is a risk that structures on the neck and neck were injured. Especially in the area of ​​the spine, great care must be taken, as injuries in this area can sometimes lead to paralysis. Therefore, these should be clarified by a doctor, especially if in addition, for example, nausea, vomiting or paralysis of the arms occur.

In a fall with a collision on the shoulder or a clumsy support, neck pain can also be caused by extreme muscle tension. In such shock moments, it can happen that the muscles contract rapidly. This can lead to pain in the neck area after the fall and be treated by massages and physiotherapy.

Neck pain by train

If you sit too long next to an air conditioner or an open window in the wind, many complain afterwards about neck pain. These drafts caused by the drafts are caused by the cooled muscles. This causes tension, which can be very painful for those affected. Therefore, avoid exposing the neck to direct cold for too long. To warm up the muscles, warming pads can be helpful, which can be easily put lying or sitting on the neck. In addition, relaxation and relaxation exercises can help to release the tension.

Neck pain from dental problems

In some cases, neck pain can also be caused by dental problems. For example, inadequate dental treatment is possible. A poorly fitting denture or crown can lead to malposition of the jaw. This often leads to muscle tension, which can spread to the neck. Strong toothache, for example, through advanced tooth decay, can also lead to restraint and thereby neck pain.

Also teeth grinding may be a possible cause. Also possible are neck pain as a result of craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD). In this disease it comes to incorrect stress in the causal system with resulting overloading of surrounding structures.

Neck pain with a sore throat

There are some diseases that can cause neck and sore throat. These include especially infections, such as a pharyngitis. It often comes to strong, swelling of the lymph nodes, which burden the neck.
Also a strong flu can cause similar symptoms. In rare cases, meningitis, meningitis, is the cause.
There are many other symptoms, such as fever, nausea and a very stiff neck.

Symptoms of neck pain

Pain in the neck can occur in any age group, but increases in advanced age and is often associated with significant muscle tension. Pain in the direction of shoulder and arm are possible, it can also lead to muscle weakness, emotional disorders and tingling.

When pain, paralysis or sensory disturbance is called a neck-shoulder-arm syndrome ( cervico-brachial syndrome ), which is mainly caused by nerve irritation (cervical disc, inflammation, tumors) in the lower cervical spine.

The neck pain can improve temporarily and after a while again and possibly strengthen again. Often, particularly long periods of tension (eg work on the computer) or unusual over-head activities are the trigger for acute neck pain. Very rarely there is a neck-tongue syndrome, which is characterized by seizure-like back pain, in the tongue and in the neck in case of sudden head turning.

The reason for this is probably a change in the area of ​​the head joint, which irritates the second nerve root, which arises from the cervical spine. Especially when lying on the affected side also nocturnal neck pain and muscle weakness in the shoulder-arm area are possible, often triggered by irritation and inflammation in the vicinity of the shoulder joint. In contrast, short-term feelings of numbness, which subside soon, more likely to be assigned to an unfavorable sleeping position.

Not infrequently, the painfully tensed neck muscles can lead to neck stiffness with complete blockage of the mobility of the cervical spine (torticollis, torticollis ).
A simultaneous occurrence of

  • a headache
  • dizziness
  • Ears of the ears or
  • blurred vision

is called cervicocele syndrome . Transmission pain does not develop in the neck (where they are felt), but elsewhere in the body. For example, in a heart attack, pain often occurs between the shoulder blades and the neck. Such pain propagations are usually not dependent on movements of the spine, which can provide an indication of transmission pain.

Diagnosis and course of neck pain

The possibilities of diagnostic examination are also very numerous due to the variety of causes of neck pain. In order to make the right diagnosis for pain in the neck, first some information of the medical history are important ( anamnesis ), since they give first indications on the causes.

The physical examination of the cervical spine with regard to local pain points, muscle tension and hardening as well as the assessment of the mobility are further indications of possible causes. Likewise, trigger points (irritation points whose contact triggers pain) can be examined. In order to rule out the cause of the neck pain being a nerve entrapment, a neurological examination may be necessary.

Imaging procedures such as

  • Ultrasound ( sonography )
  • roentgen
  • Magnetic resonance tomography (MRI, nuclear spin) or
  • Computed tomography (CT)

allow further insights into the aching neck area. If there is a suspicion of meningitis, cerebrospinal fluid is additionally used to examine the cerebrospinal fluid.

Especially neck pain due to muscular tension tend to be positive and disappear after a short time. If the causes of the neck pain are signs of wear, conditions after cervical spine injuries, neurological or rheumatic diseases, there is often a chronic course with phases of relative freedom from symptoms and acute pain phases.

Therapy of neck pain

The treatment is always aimed at neck pain against the cause of the complaints, in the foreground are physiotherapeutic and physical-therapeutic measures. Tension-related neck pain usually resolves on its own after a few days to weeks. In the acute stage, the symptomatic treatment with pain medications (NSAIDs, eg Voltaren®), cold packs or heat packs as well as temporary relief of the cervical spine are usually required.

The affected person can often help themselves with the help of active exercise and muscle strengthening, so that the symptoms are alleviated or even completely disappeared. Also, physiotherapy, active muscle strengthening, acupuncture, TENS treatments or the direct administration of anti-inflammatory drugs in the neck area for pain relief come into question. Physical current or ultrasound treatments promote blood circulation and metabolic processes in the tissue and can have a decongesting effect. Chiropractic or manual medicine should be used extremely cautiously in the neck because of the risk of nerve damage.

A relief of the neck area (eg after a whiplash) can be achieved for example by a neck cuff made of foam ( Schanz tie ) or a more stable neck collar made of plastic. At night, the cervical spine can also be relieved by a neck roll or a suitably shaped neck pillow.
Depending on the cause of the neck pain, operative treatment options are also possible. Modern spine surgery, microsurgical and less burdensome surgical techniques mean that there is now a wide range of therapeutic options.

Exercises for neck pain

With an exercise ball or a gymnastics roll can be an effective exercise to relax the neck muscles perform. The balls or the roll are placed in the lying patient's back just above the buttocks. The legs are started. The stretched body can now be moved with the legs forward and backward. During forward and backward movements, the neck must be stretched backwards, the view should be directed upwards to the ceiling and the neck should be kept straight. Several repetitions should be done.
After a short relaxation break, the exercise should be repeated again. Sense of the exercise is the straight extension of the cervical spine and the resulting Entstauchung.

Another exercise can be done sitting down. When the back is stretched, the two arms are bent right and left and the hands are folded behind the head. With gentle, gentle movements, the right elbow should now be pulled to the left, while the upper body of the seated patient also turns to the left, while the left elbow is pulled behind the head on the right side. This exercise should be repeated several times. Again, the cervical spine is gently blocked.

The third exercise can be performed on a wall. The affected person sits on a chair, both elbows are bent and the hands are crossed at the back of the head. The head is approached the wall until the elbows touch the wall. In this position should be left for a moment.
Then you should try to pull your back towards the wall, the cervical spine should remain straight. Again, the exercise should be done gently. Again, some repetitions should be done. All exercises can also be well integrated into everyday life, eg during a break in work.

Another exercise should also be performed sitting down. With the left hand, the right ear should be grasped over the head. The head should now be gently pulled to the left side and held for a few seconds. Thereafter, the procedure is reversed and with the right hand the head (left ear) is pulled to the right.


Many people who suffer from neck pain help tap the painful area. It is especially effective for pain caused by tense muscles around the neck. The tissue is exposed to a kind of massage by the pull of the tape tapes. This pull is increased by moving the neck, as the sticky skin is stretched. The whole thing happens without exerting too much pressure on the neck.
As a result, the affected structures can be gently loosened and tensions are resolved. The tapes can also be worn in everyday life and are therefore a clever way to loosen up the neck as long as possible. For severe pain, however, additional exercises should be done to relax the muscles, possibly as part of physiotherapy.

To perform the taping with the greatest possible effect, it is recommended to seek advice in a shop or from a physiotherapist.

Homeopathy / globules for neck pain

There are several globules that can help with neck pain. However, depending on the severity of the pain, it should not be used as the sole adjunct. Rhus Toxicodendron can relieve the pain of the joints. Ruta is commonly used for neck pain when migraine additionally occurs. Colocynthis is especially helpful in tension of the muscles.
Ledum is also a potential option for tension and pain caused by inflammation such as rheumatism.

Neck pain with other symptoms

Neck pain and headache

Often it is difficult to find out which was first, as both symptoms can occur in parallel. Neck pain over an extended period often causes headaches. Here are often given from below pulling reaching into the back of the head complaints. Often you can increase the headache with pressure on the cervical spine.
However, it sometimes happens that the patient first has a headache and therefore goes into an unphysiological posture of the spine, which in turn leads to increased muscle tension around the cervical spine. This then leads to neck pain.

Are feared infection-related neck pain. Meningitis leads to the so-called meningism, in which in addition to headaches and strong neck pain are given. Patients often can not put their heads on their chests. They need to act quickly, because they are in a life-threatening condition. In rare cases, meningitis does not cause headaches, but only neck pain and the inability to place the head on the chest. It is often clinically difficult to differentiate, and the physician must perform a thorough neurological examination.

Neck pain and dizziness

Most people think that dizziness is caused by the circulation. This is not always correct. Dizziness associated with neck pain can also be responsible for it.
The reason for this are receptors that the body uses to orient itself in space and maintain balance. Some of them sit on the neck and around the neck of the muscles.
If there is tension in the muscles, false signals are sent to the organ of equilibrium that sits in the inner ear. This often leads to dizziness and in some cases even to powerlessness.

For safety, it should be clarified whether other causes of dizziness come into question. If this is not the case, exercises for the neck musculature can help relieve dizziness and neck pain. Emphasis should be placed on relaxation and loosening exercises so that the muscles contract less.

If the dizziness with neck pain occurs after a fall, a doctor should always be consulted to rule out that there is no more serious injury.

Neck pain and cold

Neck pain can also occur as a concomitant symptom of a cold. This can be caused by inflamed paranasal sinuses, which can be very painful and can also radiate into the back of the head and neck next to the forehead. In case of a severe cold, the ears are often tight or painful next to the nose and paranasal sinuses.
All together can also cause the pain in the neck area distributed. Flu infections lead to headache and muscle pain even without a cold.
Since the cervical vertebrae are covered with neck muscles, it can also come here to the often indicated only in the arms and legs muscle pain. If you have a cold, you can help prevent neck pain by trying to keep your nose and sinuses clear. This nasal spray and inhalation with salt water vapor helps.

For neck pain of any kind should be waived wearing a neck brace or other fixative measures. An exception are neck pain directly after an accident dar.Bis a corresponding diagnosis is done should be dispensed with a neck brace. Late treatment after whiplash should also be performed without a neck brace, as it can quickly lead to muscle loss in the cervical spine.

Neck pain and migraine

Now and then, neck pain along with migraine attacks. Either the migraine or the painful neck may have occurred first as both can cause each other.
The exact causes for this are not yet clarified. Pain in the area of ​​the head and neck, among other things, the trigeminal nerve, an important cranial nerve, irritated. This is a kind of connection between the brain and various structures of the head. This can cause additional pain.

Neck pain and cycling

Neck pain can occur in all everyday movements. In all activities where the cervical spine is kept very rigid and long in one position, it can lead to tension in the area of ​​the vertebral bodies.

When cycling, the upper body is often brought to a forward bent position while the head and cervical spine are stretched to look forward. For a short time, this attitude will not cause any complaints. With long or regular bicycle tours but it will increasingly come to appropriate complaints, if not enough relaxation exercises and breaks are inserted.
There are special saddles that make it possible to maintain a reasonably straight position of the back while cycling, which not only relieves the cervical spine but also the entire spine.

The same applies to swimming. During breaststroke, the head is held similarly unphysiologically out of the water, which leads to increased muscular load. When backstroke but it comes to a relief of the spine.

Prophylaxis of neck pain

To prevent neck pain, monotonous stress and bad postures should be avoided at all costs. Excessive strain on the neck muscles as well as exaggerated protection such as bed rest can stress the neck and cause pain. Targeted muscle training can be used to prevent neck pain and early wear on the cervical spine.

Especially in permanently sedentary activities can lead to muscle tension. Relaxation exercises, regular short breaks and relaxation exercises for the shoulder and neck muscles can be preventative.
Drafts, moisture and cold as well as unilateral postures and movements (eg wearing shoulder bags) should be avoided. Ergonomically shaped bolsters or pillows and the choice of an optimal mattress can prevent tensions due to unfavorable sleeping positions. Severe stress should be avoided or reduced as much as possible, as stress can increase tension in the neck area.

If the neck pain occurs over and over again or does not disappear by itself, it is essential that you consult a doctor.

Anatomy of the neck

The most important structures of the neck region ( regio nuchae ) are the cervical spine and the neck muscles. The cervical spine contains 7 vertebrae ( vertebrae cervicales ), including the first cervical vertebra called Atlas and the second, Axis . These two cervical vertebrae form the upper and lower head joint with the occiput ( occipital bone ).

Through a bony channel in the cervical spine, a vertebral artery (vertebral artery) on each side pulls up into the skull. The cervical spine is the most mobile part of the spine, especially during rotational movements.

The neck muscles are divided into a front and a rear muscle group. She is for the

  • rotation
  • Tilt
  • Diffraction and
  • Extension of the head

very important.


Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms of today. They occur both acutely and suddenly, but can also solidify and become chronic. One of the reasons for the increase in the incidence of neck, shoulder and back pain is the frequent sedentary activity that most people practice today. Neck is the colloquial name for the cervical spine. The neck is therefore part of the spine, which is responsible for the statics and stability of the human body.

If neck pain occurs, you first have to look at where it comes from. Although the neck pain caused by muscle tension is probably the most common cause, serious and serious causes may be behind it. To name here, especially the herniated disc of the cervical spine or meningitis.

Harmless neck pain is mainly caused by tension in the muscles around the neck. There are numerous exercises to improve neck pain.

How to Fix a Stiff Neck - 4 Steps for Quick Relief (February 2020).

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