Most episodes of acute neck pain are due to a muscle strain or other soft tissue sprain (ligaments, tendons). This type of injury can be caused by a sudden force (such as whiplash) resulting from a car accident, or from straining the neck (such as a stiff neck| from sleeping in the wrong position, or a strain from carrying a heavy suitcase). For patients with neck pain that lasts longer than two weeks to three months, or with predominantly arm pain, numbness or tingling, there is often a specific anatomic abnormality causing the symptoms. Pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is frequently caused by a cervical herniated disc or foraminal stenosis pinching a nerve in the neck. The pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands. The symptoms may start suddenly or develop over time.
The approach to treatment for a cervical disc herniation is guided by how long the pain lasts, pain intensity and the degree to which the cervical nerve and/or spinal cord are affected.
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