Neck pain is pain that is felt in the upper part of the spine. It is sign that the joints, muscles or other parts of the neck are injured, strained or not working properly. Neck pain is very common, with about 1 in 10 people having it at any given time. Although uncommon, neck pain can be an early sign of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).
axSpA commonly develops in the lower back and hips but, in some cases pain and stiffness can be felt in the neck. This is usually due to inflammation of the spine. Inflammation can cause bone to grow within the joints of the spine, which can eventually affect the cervical spine (the neck region of your spinal column), causing pain and stiffness.
It is common for a person with axSpA to develop unrelated neck pain from other causes, such as overuse or sleeping on it wrong
If you have been diagnosed with axSpA you should talk to your doctor or other health professional if you are experiencing neck pain. They will ask you about your symptoms, examine you and assess your arthritis. They may also check for any serious medical problems that could be causing your pain, but these are rare. You should see your doctor if:
It is normal to worry about the cause of your pain and how it will affect you. Talking to your doctor or other health professional about your worries can be helpful.
Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your doctor or healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Self-management courses aim to help you develop skills to be actively involved in your healthcare. Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of these courses.
Talk to your healthcare team about ways to relieve your pain. There are many things you can try, including:
Your neck is designed for movement. The sooner you start moving your neck normally the sooner your neck will feel better. You may need to rest or reduce some activities when the pain is bad. But resting for more than a day or two usually does not help and may do more harm than good. See your physiotherapist or other health professional for advice about exercises to keep your neck moving.
It is natural to feel scared, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry when you have pain. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.
Some unproven treatments may still be useful, however further research is needed. These treatments include:
Neck collars have been proven not to be useful for neck pain. Your healthcare team can give you more advice and information about whether any of these or other treatments might be useful for you.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ARTHRITIS OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SUPPORT SERVICES.