Neck joint pain can stem from several causes, each one with its own set of considerations for safe treatment. Sudden, sharp pain that immediately becomes debilitating might be caused by a broken or fractured bone in the neck, and immediate care from a doctor should be sought. One should not try to stretch the muscles of the neck or move the neck too much should such a pain occur, as a bone break is a serious condition that can lead to paralysis if not treated properly. Arthritis is another common cause of neck joint pain, as is a herniated disc in the spine or a spinal deformity.
Arthritis is perhaps the most common cause of neck joint pain. As humans age, arthritis becomes more and more likely to develop. This condition is a wearing-down of the joints in the body, and it is quite common in the spine; this means arthritis can be present in the joints of the neck. The ligaments between the joints begin to wear down or disappear entirely, allowing two or more bones to rub against each other. This can lead to constant or severe pain in the neck, and it can help develop spinal deformities, which can lead to even more pain. Arthritis as a cause of neck joint pain can be treated with medication and physical therapy, and a regular stretching and exercise routine is recommended.
A fracture or break in one of the bones in the neck can lead to more serious issues and should be treated by a doctor immediately. Such breaks or fractures often cause sudden, sharp pain, and the pain usually follows an impact of some sort. If a bone in the neck is broken, it may be allowed to move more than it should, and if it comes in contact with the spinal cord, paralysis is a possibility. If a sharp, sudden pain occurs in the neck, one should immobilize the neck and seek treatment from a doctor immediately.
Sometimes neck joint pain is caused by spinal compression, which occurs naturally after a day of standing upright. Gravity naturally pulls down on the body, making the gap between vertebrae shorter. An impact can also compress vertebrae, as can a repeated motion such as riding a bicycle over rough terrain or even heavy lifting. Such compression can lead to a herniated disc, in which the gel-like fluid between vertebrae begins to squeeze out, allowing the vertebrae to rub against each other or against nerves in the neck.