Finding Relief for Neck Pain


Cervicalgia, or neck pain, can occur in people of all ages. It can interfere with daily activities and may be associated with headaches. Cervicalgia is common — nearly 30% of people will experience neck pain each year. The good news is, in most cases, it responds well to treatment. Only in rare cases is neck pain a symptom of a more serious problem.

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Finding Relief for Cervicalgia

Cervicalgia (neck pain) can be frustrating and, at times, debilitating for those who suffer from it. There are a variety of noninvasive treatments you can try to manage your pain, but if your pain is severe or doesn’t respond to at-home treatments, you may need to consult with your doctor to get to the root of the problem. At Citrus Spine Institute, our team specializes in spinal health and will work with you to create a treatment plan to help you find relief.

Learn More About Cervicalgia

Cervicalgia can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from lifestyle choices to bone abnormalities. Because the neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, it’s vulnerable to several types of injuries or conditions that cause pain and discomfort.


One of the most common causes of cervicalgia is poor posture or sitting at length hunched over a desk, laptop or smartphone. The unnatural curvature of your spine in these positions can cause strain on your neck muscles. Similar strain can even occur while reading, sleeping or gritting your teeth.


Neck pain also tends to occur more often or worsen with age, as joints in the neck begin to wear down. For instance, cervicalgia is one symptom of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that mostly affects older adults. Osteoarthritis causes the discs between your vertebrae to deteriorate, leading to herniated discs or bone spurs that press on the nerves branching out from your neck vertebrae.


Cervicalgia can occur after an injury or car accident. These types of traumas can involve whiplash, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck. Finally, in rare cases, cervicalgia could be a sign of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.

The most common symptom of cervicalgia is neck pain. The specific type of neck pain, however, can differ from patient to patient.


Cervicalgia pain may feel tender, sharp, stiff or even have a burning or tingling sensation. Some patients report aching or sore neck and shoulder muscles, with hard knots that are tender to the touch. Others report muscle spasms — a sudden, powerful tightening of the neck muscles — or a stiffness that makes it hard to turn the head. Still others experience pain in the joints of the neck, which typically gets worse when leaning the head toward the affected side.


Another common symptom is headache — most often a dull, aching pain in the back of the head and upper neck area. This is usually the result of muscle strain or spasm, and tends to get worse while moving the neck.

Mild neck pain can often be effectively treated with lifestyle and home remedies. If your pain is manageable or has not been occurring long, you may want to try some more moderate measures to relieve symptoms.


First, try to be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Simple swaps to improve spine health include:

  • When sitting or standing, position your shoulders in a straight line over your hips, with your ears directly over your shoulders. 
  • Take frequent breaks from your computer to get up, move around and stretch. You may also want to adjust your work setup to keep your monitor at eye level and your knees slightly lower than your hips while sitting. 
  • While sleeping, consider using a small pillow under your neck to keep it more aligned with your body.
  • When talking on the phone, avoid cradling it between your neck and shoulder.


To ease your existing pain, a good place to start is over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can also reduce inflammation by alternately applying hot and cold packs to the affected area. Start with an ice pack for 15-20 minutes, several times per day, intermittently adding a heating pad or a warm shower.

If pain persists, you may want to work with a physical therapist or medical massage therapist. These professionals can give you guided stretching exercises and other therapies to provide comfort.

If your pain is severe or doesn’t respond to at-home treatments, consult with a doctor. A spinal health specialist can help you identify underlying conditions that could be causing your pain and can assist you in pursuing more intensive therapies. 


To get a better picture of your neck health and properly diagnose a more serious neck problem, your doctor may conduct a series of imaging tests — such as X-rays, a CT scan, MRI and others — in order to choose the proper treatment.


Medical treatments for more advanced cervicalgia may include:

  • Traction: This therapy uses weights, pulleys or other devices to gently stretch your neck, usually providing pain relief.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Your doctor will place electrodes onto the skin near any painful areas, delivering tiny electrical impulses via electrodes that can help relieve pain.
  • Short-term immobilization: Temporary use of a soft collar can support your neck and relieve pain by taking pressure off its muscles and vertebrae.
  • In the most serious cases, steroid injections or surgery may be necessary.

You should always seek immediate medical attention if your neck pain is a result of trauma, such as an injury, fall or car accident.


Additionally, you should seek immediate care for your neck pain if:

  • It’s accompanied by fever, headache and stiffness, which may indicate bacterial meningitis — an infection of the brain and spinal cord.
  • You have pain traveling down one arm, or if your arm or hand is weak, numb or tingling. These symptoms may be a result of a herniated disc pressing on a nerve.
  • You experience loss of bowel or bladder control, which indicates pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots.
  • You have persistent swollen glands in the neck, which may be a symptom of infection or a tumor.
  • You have chest pain or pressure, which can signal a heart attack or inflamed heart muscle.

Next Steps: Living With Cervicalgia

At-home remedies are a good starting point for those suffering from mild neck pain. If your pain is severe or persists, consult with a spinal specialist to get the guidance you need to find relief. 

In addition to following their recommended treatment plan, keep your doctor informed of any changes you may experience and be sure to schedule regular check-ups to track the progress of your treatment plan.

Can We Help?

It takes a doctor with experience treating cervicalgia to determine what treatment is right for you. Our Citrus Spine Institute practitioners will examine your history, symptoms and lifestyle needs to help you find relief. Schedule an appointment today to learn how to reduce or eliminate cervicalgia.

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