Radiating neck pain has many possible causes, including whiplash or other injury, nerve issues, spinal disc issues, and muscle problems. Additionally, medical conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis are common causes of neck pain. Infections, such as meningitis, may cause this problem as well.
Injuries are a common cause of neck pain. For instance, an automobile accident may cause whiplash, which typically results in burning neck pain as the spinal accessory nerve is compressed beneath the trapezius muscle. Accidents may also cause a condition called spinal stenosis, wherein physical damage causes neck pain that radiates downward and into the right side of the body.
Strain to soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments or tendons, may cause radiating neck pain as well. Should these tissues become irritated, burning, aching or swelling may occur. These kinds of conditions are usually easily remedied with anti-inflammatory medications or with topical remedies, such as ice packs. Soft tissue damage may be caused by an injury, illness, or repetitive behaviors, such as carrying a heavy shoulder bag or purse.
Bulging or slipped discs also are common causes of neck pain that radiates into the arms or down the spine. A medical professional may perform an MRI or X-ray to determine if any of these issues are the culprit.
There are various autoimmune medical conditions that might include radiating neck pain as a symptom. For instance, fibromyalgia causes multiple tender points in the soft tissues and often causes chronic neck pain. This condition also causes rest disruptions, as pain often worsens while the patient is trying to sleep.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. Common targets of the disease are joints in the hands, feet, and neck. RA also causes inflammation, causing pain to radiate from the damaged joints. Symptoms of the disease may come, go, and vary in intensity.
Meningitis is an infectious disease that causes the membranes around the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. The disease causes pain and swelling throughout the neck and spine, and it can lead to serious complications, such as brain damage, permanent disability, or death.
Various types of neck pain require medical evaluation to determine appropriate treatment options. Ignoring ongoing neck pain is never a good idea since, over time, the underlying cause of the symptom may worsen and become more difficult to treat. Simple tests and an evaluation by a medical professional can best provide a patient with treatment options.