Neck Pain Left Side


Neck Pain Left Side
Pain on the left side of the neck usually results from benign causes, such as muscle strain from sleeping in an awkward position or inflammation. Sometimes, there may be a more serious cause, for instance, a tumor or arthritis. The neck contains the cervical spinal cord, muscles, and major blood vessels that supply the entire body.

  • It is often exposed, which increases the risk of injury to its internal structures.
  • Many people experience temporary neck pain due to a variety of everyday activities and tasks.
  • However, neck pain also ranks among the top five most common chronic pain conditions,
  • However, severe or persistent left side neck pain may indicate a more serious underlying medical condition.

This article discusses some causes of pain on the left side of the neck, when to see a doctor, and some treatment options. Numerous factors can lead to neck pain on the left side, including:

What does a pain in the left side of the neck mean?

Most common causes – Tension or muscle strain Tension and muscle strain are some of the biggest culprits behind pain on the neck’s left side. When the tendon or neck muscle is torn or overstretched, muscle strain occurs. Tension in muscle is when it doesn’t relax fully after contracting. These are caused by:

Sitting or leaning forward for a long time An awkward sleeping position like with twisted or bent neck During exercise, when you put too much force on muscles of the neck Stress Worn joints with age Compression of nerves Falling or crashing into someone cause whiplash Cradling the phone between shoulder and ears

Whiplash Forceful back and forth head thrusting causes whiplash. The reason includes accidents and during sports like football. Whiplash causes pain in the left side of the neck, headache, and muscle stiffness. Bufferin and OTC pain medicines are generally recommended to treat whiplash.

When should I worry about my left neck pain?

Schedule an office visit – Call your doctor if you have neck pain that:

  • Worsens in spite of self-care
  • Persists after several weeks of self-care
  • Radiates down your arms or legs
  • Is accompanied by headache, weakness, numbness or tingling

Is left neck pain serious?

If you are experiencing constant and severe pain on the left side of your neck, you should seek proper diagnosis and treatment immediately. In certain cases, undiagnosed or untreated neck pain can lead to a permanent disability.

Can left side neck pain be heart related?

8 Critical Signs of Heart Disease You Should Never Ignore Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, and it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States according to the, It’s important to understand what symptoms to look out for that may indicate heart disease.

Chest pain or discomfort – this includes any new feelings of heaviness, tightness, or squeezing in the chest that could be a result of cholesterol buildup narrowing the arteries and limiting the blood supply to your heart. Even a mild new sensation may be an important sign of heart disease. Discomfort during rest is especially worrisome and is a sign you should contact your healthcare professional. Extreme fatigue and dizziness – ongoing tiredness and dizziness that affect your daily routine can be a sign of an impending heart attack. If that fatigue increases with physical activity, it may be an indication of heart failure. Body pain – depending on where the pain is, it could be the result of a different heart-related condition. Pain in the upper body, including the arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or abdomen, are often warning signs of a heart attack. If the pain is located in the neck, back, jaw, throat or abdomen it may be a sign of heart disease. Nausea or profuse sudden sweating – if you’re experiencing nausea or profuse sudden sweating accompanied by other symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath and pain in the upper body, it may be a sign of a heart attack. Unexplained shortness of breath – If you find yourself short of breath with activity that in the past did not provoke this symptom, this may suggest narrowed coronary arteries—which could lead to heart attack – or congestive heart failure. Heart failure means the heart doesn’t properly pump blood and it is often the result of a heart attack. Swelling in the lower body – congestive heart failure causes blood flow out of the heart to slow and blood returning to the heart through the veins to back up. This can cause fluid to build up in the legs, ankles, feet or abdomen. Persistent coughing or wheezing – Blood that backs up in the veins due to congestive heart failure can also cause fluid to leak and build up in the lungs. Persistent coughing or wheezing especially when lying flat, often noted when going to bed, may be suggestive of heart failure. Family history of heart disease – certain types of cardiovascular disease are inherited so it’s important to get the facts on the health of parents, grandparents and siblings to help you manage heart disease risk.

In the case of a medical emergency call 911 or visit the emergency room. If you are experiencing any of the warning signs, reach out to your physician to schedule an appointment. Whoever your heart beats for, our hearts beat for you. Connect with a top cardiovascular specialist at RWJBarnabas Health by calling or visit, : 8 Critical Signs of Heart Disease You Should Never Ignore

How do I know if my neck pain is serious?

Neck pain is pain that starts in the neck and can be associated with radiating pain down one or both of the arms. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders or diseases that involve any of the tissues in the neck, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments or muscles.

The neck region of the spinal column, the cervical spine, consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae ), which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity. Each vertebral bone has an opening forming a continuous hollow longitudinal space, which runs the whole length of the back.

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This space, called the spinal canal, is the area through which the spinal cord and nerve bundles pass. The spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and surrounded by a protective layer called the dura, a leathery sac. At each vertebral level, a pair of spinal nerves exit through small openings called foramina (one to the left and one to the right).

These nerves supply the muscles, skin and tissues of the body and thus provide sensation and movement to all parts of the body. The delicate spinal cord and nerves are protected by suspension in the spinal fluid in the dural sac, then further by the bony vertebrae. The bony vertebrae are further supported by strong ligaments and muscles that bind them and allow for safe movement.

Neck pain may be caused by arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle inflammation, strain or trauma. In rare cases, it may be a sign of cancer or meningitis. For serious neck problems, a primary care physician and often a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, should be consulted to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

Age, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis can lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form. Sudden severe injury to the neck may also contribute to disc herniation, whiplash, blood vessel destruction, vertebral injury and in extreme cases may result in permanent paralysis.

Herniated discs or bone spurs may cause a narrowing of the spinal canal, or the small openings through which spinal nerve roots exit, putting pressure on spinal cord or the nerves. Pressure on the spinal cord in the cervical region can be a serious problem, because virtually all of the nerves to the rest of the body have to pass through the neck to reach their final destination (arms, chest, abdomen, legs).

  1. This can potentially compromise the function of many important organs.
  2. Pressure on a nerve can result in numbness, pain or weakness to the area in the arm the nerve supplies.
  3. Cervical stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord and is most frequently caused by degeneration associated with aging.

(See also: AANS Cervical Spine Patient Page ). The discs in the spine that separate and cushion vertebrae may dry out. As a result, the space between the vertebrae shrinks and the discs lose their ability to act as shock absorbers. At the same time, the bones and ligaments that make up the spine become less pliable and thicken.

  • These changes result in a narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • In addition, the degenerative changes associated with cervical stenosis can affect the vertebrae by contributing to the growth of bone spurs that compress the nerve roots.
  • Mild stenosis can be treated conservatively for extended periods of time as long as the symptoms are restricted to neck pain.

Severe stenosis may impinge the spinal cord causing injury and requires referral to a neurosurgeon. Neck injury symptoms include neck stiffness, shoulder or arm pain, headache, facial pain and dizziness. Pain from a motor vehicle injury may be caused by tears in muscles or injuries to the joints between vertebrae.

Pain in the arm Numbness or weakness in the arm or forearm Tingling in the fingers or hand Difficulty with balance and walking Weakness in the arms or legs

Those with neck pain may be referred to a neurosurgeon because of pain in the neck, shoulder or tingling and numbness in the arms or weakness. Neurosurgeons should be consulted for neck pain if:

It occurs after an injury or blow to the head Fever or headache accompanies the neck pain Stiff neck prevents the patient from touching chin to chest Pain shoots down one arm There is tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms or hands Neck symptoms associated with leg weakness or loss of coordination in arms or legs The pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medication Pain does not improve after a week

Diagnosis is made by a neurosurgeon based on patient history, symptoms, a physical examination and results of diagnostic studies, if necessary. Some patients may be treated conservatively and then undergo imaging studies if medication and physical therapy are ineffective. These tests may include:

Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan) Discography Electromyography (EMG) Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Myelogram Selective Nerve Root Block X-rays

Most causes of neck pain are not life threatening and resolve with time and conservative medical treatment. Determining a treatment strategy depends mainly on identifying the location and cause of the pain. Although neck pain can be quite debilitating and painful, nonsurgical management can alleviate many symptoms.

The doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the pain or inflammation and muscle relaxants to allow time for healing to occur. Reducing physical activities or wearing a cervical collar may help provide support for the spine, reduce mobility and decrease pain and irritation. Trigger point injection, including corticosteroids, can temporarily relieve pain.

Occasionally, epidural steroids may be recommended. Conservative treatment options may continue for six to eight weeks. If the patient is experiencing any weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, seek medical attention immediately. If the patient has had any trauma and is now experiencing neck pain with weakness or numbness, urgent consultation with a neurosurgeon is recommended.

Conservative therapy is not helping The patient experiences a decrease in function due to persistent pain The patient experiences progressive neurological symptoms involving the arms and legs The patient experiences difficulty with balance or walking The patient is in otherwise good health

There are several different surgical procedures which can be utilized, the choice is influenced by the specifics of each case. Also, there are options for approaches from the front of the neck or the back of the neck. In many cases, spinal fusion is performed, though in some cases, simple decompression or artificial disc replacement may be employed.

Spinal fusion is an operation that creates a solid union between two or more vertebrae. Various devices (like screws or plates) may be used to enhance fusion and support unstable areas of the cervical spine. This procedure may assist in strengthening and stabilizing the spine and may thereby help to alleviate severe and chronic neck pain.

Factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease and the presence or absence of pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. Other factors include age, how long the patient has had the disorder, other medical conditions and if there has been previous cervical spine surgery.

  • If the patient smokes, he or she should try to quit.
  • Smoking damages the structures and architecture of the spine and slows down the healing process.
  • If overweight, the patient should try to lose weight.
  • Both smoking and obesity have been shown to have a negative impact on spinal fusion surgery outcome.
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The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against its risks. Although a large percentage of neck pain patients report significant pain relief after surgery, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual. If neck pain resolves with non-surgical, conservative treatment, follow-up will likely be on an as-needed basis or if symptoms return.

If a patient undergoes surgery, follow-up is specific to each type of procedure. AANS Patient Pages are authored by neurosurgical professionals, with the goal of providing useful information to the public. Alex P. Michael, MD Important The AANS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products or physicians referenced in these patient fact sheets.

This information provided is an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult his or her neurosurgeon, or locate one in your area through the AANS’ Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.

Does neck pain mean stroke?

Headlines about a woman who suffered a stroke after getting her hair shampooed at a salon may have sounded like a crazy story right out of a tabloid, but it’s actually possible. “This type of stroke is rare, we don’t know exactly what causes it, but we think it’s either the hyperextension of the neck, whiplash-type movement during the shampoo or a combination of both,” said Geisinger vascular neurologist Ramin Zand, MD.

  • It’s believed that the extreme positioning of the neck, trauma, or rigorous neck movements can cause arteries in the neck to get cut or torn – a condition called cerebral artery dissection.
  • If a cervical artery in the neck becomes damaged, it can cause a dissection, which is damage to the inside of a blood vessel,” Dr.

Zand explained. “This can cause abnormal blood flow and clotting – those clots can block the artery or broken off and flow north to the brain and cause a stroke.” This type of rare injury leading to stroke isn’t just limited to the hair salon. “Extreme head and neck motions pose a risk of wounding the cerebral arteries and thus, producing clots, swelling and constriction, which can cause serious damage in the brain,” Dr.

Zand said. “This type of injury and subsequent stroke has also been caused by certain yoga poses.” Although yoga, like salon shampoos, is considered a safe activity, poses such as shoulder stands, headstands, side angle pose, triangle pose, and plow pose are specifically highlighted as poses that could lead to injury in the arteries in the neck – they can result in sudden neck movements or put extreme pressure on the neck.

Other than neck positioning and jarring head and neck movements, underlying atherosclerosis or uncontrolled hypertension may increase your risk of this type of injury. “Atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries, may put you at a greater risk of iatrogenic cerebral artery injury because you’re more vulnerable to compressing arteries when you hyperextend your neck,” Dr.

  • Zand said.
  • Additionally, cerebral artery injury may also be caused by whiplash injuries, chiropractic manipulation, or even hard coughs or sneezes.
  • This potential injury doesn’t mean you should avoid getting your hair shampooed at a salon or stop practicing yoga,” Dr.
  • Zand said.
  • It’s a very rare injury, but it’s something to be aware of and just another reason it’s so important to know the warning signs of a stroke.” The most common symptom on presentation is headache and neck pain (in about half of the patient), followed by signs of stroke.

The warning signs of a stroke include:

Numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg, especially limited to one side Trouble speaking or slurred speech Confusion or trouble understanding others Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes Dizziness Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated Severe headache that comes on for no reason

If you’re worried about this injury the next time you go to the salon, cushioned salon sinks that sit a little higher will keep your neck in a safer position. “If you feel uncomfortable or have a hard time swallowing while getting your hair washed or practicing yoga, your neck may be too extended,” Dr.

Can anxiety cause left neck pain?

Can stress cause neck pain and tension in the shoulders? – When we experience high levels of anxiety or stress, our body’s natural reaction is to tense up. When this happens consistently over a long period of time, it can lead to muscle tension. This can cause stiffness, tightness, aching, and pain in your neck and shoulders.

Should you ignore neck pain?

Why you shouldn’t ignore neck pain – While neck pain can originate in your cervical spine because of injury, degeneration, and poor habits, it can also occur because of underlying medical conditions, like:

Pinched nerve Rheumatoid arthritis Heart disease Infection Cancer

Whether your neck pain starts because of an injury or an underlying condition, your symptoms can spread and impact your quality of life. For example, in addition to the discomfort, neck pain can lead to headaches, difficulty sleeping or turning your head, and weakness, numbness, or tingling in your shoulder and arm.

Why does my left shoulder neck hurt so bad?

Causes of neck and shoulder pain – Dr. Delavaux explains that neck and shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

Poor posture, muscle imbalances, weakness and misalignments Muscle strains Rotator cuff strains Osteoarthritis Herniated disc Injuries Poor sleeping positions

“So, it’s important to remember that even the slightest of changes in your posture, eye level and mobility can make the biggest of impacts,” recaps Dr. Delavaux. “But as always, the best way to move forward is with an open and honest dialogue and evaluation with your health care team to create your personalized care plan.”

What is cardiac neck pain?

Is neck pain related to the heart? – Neck pain isn’t usually related to your heart. But sudden or severe neck pain could be a sign of a heart attack. If you’re having a, you typically experience other symptoms along with neck pain, including:

Arm, jaw, shoulder or upper back pain Chest pain Fatigue Heart palpitations or feelings of your heart pounding Lightheadedness or dizziness Shortness of breath

If you think you or a loved one is having a heart attack, call 911 right away, Timely treatment can lessen the damage to your heart and even save your life.

What is a pinched nerve in the left side of the neck?

Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a “pinched nerve,” occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. This may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder and/or arm, as well as muscle weakness and numbness.

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Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by “wear and tear” changes that occur in the spine as we age, such as arthritis. In younger people, it is most often caused by a sudden injury that results in a herniated disk. In some cases, however, there is no traumatic episode associated with the onset of symptoms.

In most cases, cervical radiculopathy responds well to conservative treatment that includes medication and physical therapy. Your spine is made up of 24 bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another. These bones connect to create a canal that protects the spinal cord.

The seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and form the neck comprise the cervical spine. Other parts of your spine include: Spinal cord and nerves. These “electrical cables” travel through the spinal canal carrying messages between your brain and muscles. Nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae (foramen).

Intervertebral disks. In between your vertebrae are flexible intervertebral disks. They act as shock absorbers when you walk or run. Intervertebral disks are flat and round and about a half inch thick. They are made up of two components:

Annulus fibrosus. This is the tough, flexible outer ring of the disk. Nucleus pulposus. This is the soft, jelly-like center of the disk.

Cervical radiculopathy most often arises from degenerative changes that occur in the spine as we age or from an injury that causes a herniated, or bulging, intervertebral disk. Degenerative changes. As the disks in the spine age, they lose height and begin to bulge.

They also lose water content, begin to dry out, and become stiffer. This problem causes settling, or collapse, of the disk spaces and loss of disk space height. As the disks lose height, the vertebrae move closer together. The body responds to the collapsed disk by forming more bone—called bone spurs—around the disk to strengthen it.

These bone spurs contribute to the stiffening of the spine. They may also narrow the foramen—the small openings on each side of the spinal column where the nerve roots exit—and pinch the nerve root. Degenerative changes in the disks are often called arthritis or spondylosis.

  1. These changes are normal and they occur in everyone.
  2. In fact, nearly half of all people middle-aged and older have worn disks and pinched nerves that do not cause painful symptoms.
  3. It is not known why some patients develop symptoms and others do not.
  4. Herniated disk.
  5. A disk herniates when its jelly-like center (nucleus) pushes against its outer ring (annulus).

If the disk is very worn or injured, the nucleus may squeeze all the way through. When the herniated disk bulges out toward the spinal canal, it puts pressure on the sensitive nerve root, causing pain and weakness in the area the nerve supplies. A herniated disk often occurs with lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting movements.

Tingling or the feeling of “pins and needles” in the fingers or hand Weakness in the muscles of the arm, shoulder, or hand Loss of sensation

Some patients report that pain decreases when they place their hands on top of their head. This movement may temporarily relieve pressure on the nerve root.

What causes a stiff neck on one side?

What can cause neck pain – The most common causes of neck pain are:

the neck becoming locked in an awkward position while sleepingbad posture – for example, when sitting at a desk for a long timea pinched nervean injury – for example, whiplash from a traffic accident or fall

How do doctors check neck pain?

Other tests –

Electromyography (EMG). An EMG can determine whether neck pain might be related to a pinched nerve. It involves inserting fine needles through the skin into a muscle. The test measures the speed of nerve conduction to determine whether nerves are working properly. Blood tests. Blood tests can sometimes provide evidence of inflammation or infections that might be causing or contributing to neck pain.

Can a brain tumor cause neck pain?

Back or neck pain that may extend to the arms or legs, be dull, sharp or burning or be worse at night. weakness. numbness. lack of coordination that is usually on both sides of the body.

What happens if you don’t treat neck pain?

The serious consequences of delaying treatment – If you have a compressed nerve in your neck and you delay your treatment, you can wind up with shooting, electrical-like pain extending into your back and all the way down your arms. Over time, a pinched nerve can cause your muscles to become weak, and it can interfere with your ability to use your hands.

  • Eventually, that damage can become permanent, which means delaying care could result in a lifetime of disability.
  • Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore muscle strain either.
  • When you strain a muscle, it can cause inflammation which can, in turn, presses on nerves.
  • Or, you might wind up compensating for the strain by putting excess pressure on other areas of your neck and shoulders, which can also press on nerves.

What does that mean? Even a seemingly minor muscle strain can wind up causing nerve compression, which can then cause serious and even permanent damage. The bottom line is pretty simple: Any type of chronic neck pain that goes on for days on end without relief needs to be seen and evaluated by a medical professional.

Can stress cause pain in left side of neck?

Get help for chronic neck pain today – Yes, it’s true. Emotional stress can cause physical neck pain. But that doesn’t make the discomfort less real or professional medical treatment less necessary. Let us help you determine the cause of your neck pain and help you create a treatment plan to move forward.

Is side neck pain normal?

Overview – Neck pain is common. Poor posture — whether from leaning over a computer or hunching over a workbench — strains neck muscles. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain. Rarely, neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Seek medical care for neck pain with numbness or loss of strength in the arms or hands or for pain that shoots into a shoulder or down an arm.

Can anxiety cause left neck pain?

Can stress cause neck pain and tension in the shoulders? – When we experience high levels of anxiety or stress, our body’s natural reaction is to tense up. When this happens consistently over a long period of time, it can lead to muscle tension. This can cause stiffness, tightness, aching, and pain in your neck and shoulders.

What does pain in the neck represent?

/peɪn ɪn ðə nɛk/ A pain in the neck is any kind of annoyance or source of grief.