What is neck pain?
Neck pain and dizziness are symptoms with various causes and treatments.
Neck pain is any degree of discomfort in the front or back of the neck between the head and the shoulders. Neck pain can feel dull, aching, sharp, piercing, shooting, burning, and may increase or decrease with certain movements of the neck. Neck pain can range from mild to severe.
What is dizziness?
Dizziness can be characterized as either vertigo with disequilibrium or lightheadedness associated with feeling faint or the potential to lose consciousness or “pass out.” Poor balance generally accompanies dizziness. Dizziness may or may not be associated with pain or other symptoms.
What are the causes and risk factors of neck pain?
Causes of neck pain can include:
- Injury or trauma
- Muscle strain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Disc herniation and cervical radiculopathy
- Ligament damage
- Thyroid disease
- Virus infection
- Bacterial infection
- Fungus infection
Risk factors for neck pain include:
- Trauma injury
- Athletic activity
- Whiplash injury
- Heavy lifting
- Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections of mouth, throat, or neck
What are the causes and risk factors of dizziness?
Causes of dizziness can include:
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Low blood pressure
- Heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias)
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Inadequate oxygen supply (hypoxia)
- Migraine headaches
- Benign positional vertigo
- Meniere’s disease
- Drugs, alcohol or medications
- Brain tumor or hemorrhage
- Inner ear infection or tumors
Risk factors for dizziness include:
- Heart disease
- Diabetes and diseases of the pancreas
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Virus infections
- High altitude exposure
- Drugs and alcohol
What are signs of neck pain and dizziness?
Neck pain can be associated with stiffness or abnormal positioning of the neck, commonly referred to as “wry neck.” There may be pain or worsening of pain with certain movements of the neck. Sometimes there is notable swelling and tenderness of neck tissues such as the muscles or lymph nodes, which may be enlarged. Rash may be present. Occasionally, neck pain is associated with dizziness.
When to seek medical care for neck pain and dizziness
With any unexplained or persisting neck pain or dizziness, consult with a health care professional. This is essential to determine whether the symptoms are harmless (benign) and temporary or serious and threatening.
You can often manage common causes of harmless neck pain and dizziness — including neck strains, viral infections of the mouth and throat, and minor dehydration — with home remedies and rehydration. You can use over-the-counter analgesics, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), rest, topical analgesics, and heat applications for minor pain.
What specialists treat conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness?
Specialists who evaluate and treat the causes of neck pain and dizziness include:
- Family practitioners
- General practitioners
- Urgent care doctors
- Emergency physicians
- Internal medicine specialists
- ENT physicians
How do doctors diagnose conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness?
Doctors diagnose the conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness after a history and physical examination, including measuring blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse. Doctors may also perform other tests that include blood testing, electrocardiogram (EKG), and imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan, and others.
What are the treatments for conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness?
The treatments for the conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness depend on the precise condition involved. Treatments can include:
- Heat application
- Blood transfusion
- Glucose administration
- Diabetes treatment
- Oxygen administration
- Muscle relaxants
- Burn care
- Vertigo treatments
- Cardiology care
- Physical therapy (including ultrasound, electric stimulation, and exercises)
What is the prognosis for conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness?
The prognosis, or outlook, for conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness depends on the specific condition causing the symptom. Because common causes of neck pain and dizziness are often benign, the prognosis for conditions that cause neck pain and dizziness is usually good. However, as listed above, many serious causes of neck pain and dizziness can have a worse prognosis or outlook.
How to prevent neck pain and dizziness
To some degree, you can prevent neck pain and dizziness by avoiding injury, staying hydrated, getting regular medical checkups, not smoking, and minimizing alcohol intake.