Chronic Neck Pain and Its Symptoms

a woman's neck glows red with chronic neck pain

Chronic neck pain is the result of a variety of issues, from trauma to arthritis to stress. With so many different causes, managing these issues requires a good understanding of what causes it. These causes can often vary depending on specific symptoms and other seemingly unrelated chronic concerns. Furthermore, the longer chronic neck pain continues, the harder it generally is to treat.

Development of Chronic Neck Pain

Neck pain does not appear in the same way for everyone. It may begin slowly and gradually become worse. Neck pain may appear immediately after trauma, or it may develop after quite some time has passed. It may even manifest quite suddenly with no obvious reasons as to why. When chronic neck pain does appear, it is important to consider whether the pain is constant, comes and goes sporadically, or appears with regularity.

Different Types of Pain

While general discomfort is the most obvious symptom associated with chronic neck pain, it’s important to realize there are varying types. Chronic neck pain includes stiffness or dull and throbbing soreness. On the more instense side of the spectrum, pain can feel sharp or stabbing pain. Chronic neck pain may also radiate into different areas of the body. By explaining the specific type of pain you are experiencing, your doctor may find it easier to diagnose the cause.

Stiffness, Stabbing, or Soreness

Neck pain symptoms include stiffness or difficulty turning your head in either direction. Bending your head to tip your ears to your shoulders may also be problematic. Conversely, any movement may cause a sharp pain in a particular spot. This sharpness may be constantly present; intensely sharp pain may even be stabbing. Neck pain may also manifest as dull or throbbing soreness, as opposed to a sharp discomfort. This type of pain feels similar to poking a bruise. Your neck may simply feel tender depending on what’s going on.

Radiating Pain and Headaches

Neck pain does not always concentrate in the neck. In some instances, you may notice ongoing pain that radiates into the shoulders. The pain can also radiate upward to the head or down the arms into the hands. This radiating pain is particularly debilitating when it couples chronic neck pain with persistent headaches. When the pain radiates into your arms or head, more troubling symptoms may follow. While headaches associated with chronic neck pain can be tension headaches, they also arise from pinched nerves, which can be more difficult to manage.

Radiating Pain and Arm Symptoms

When chronic neck pain radiates into your fingers, arms, or hands, there are several further symptoms. This tends to affect one arm, rather than both, but this does not make it any easier to deal with. Radiating pain often appears in the hands, arms, and fingers as a burning, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensation. The feeling is similar to when blood flow is reduced to an appendage, also known as a limb “falling asleep.” As this continues, you may find that your arms become weak. You may develop difficulty grasping objects or lifting things with your fingers.

Other Aspects of Chronic Neck Pain Symptoms

Sometimes, the pain that develops can affect you in ways you don’t realize. You may not recognize these problems as symptoms of chronic neck pain. A prime example of this is difficulty sleeping. Neck pain, in general, often makes sleep challenging. Chronic neck pain may also make everyday activities difficult. Getting dressed, driving, or participating in highly mobile activities can be limited.