Neck Pain: Initial Evaluation and Management

Marc A Childress, Samantha Jayne Stuek
American Family Physician 2020 August 1, 102 (3): 150-156
Neck pain is a common presenting symptom in the primary care setting and causes significant disability. The broad differential diagnosis requires an efficient but global assessment; therefore, emphasis is typically placed on red flags that can assist in the early recognition and treatment of more concerning diagnoses, such as traumatic injuries, infection, malignancy, vascular emergencies, and other inflammatory conditions. The critical element in appropriate diagnosis and management of these conditions is an accurate patient history. Physical examination findings complement and refine diagnostic cues from the history but often lack the specificity to be of value independently. Diagnostic tools such as imaging and electrodiagnostic tests have variable utility, especially in chronic or degenerative conditions. Treatment of mechanical or nonneuropathic neck pain includes short-term use of medications and possibly injections. However, long-term data for these interventions are limited. Acupuncture and other complementary and alternative therapies may be helpful in some cases. Advanced imaging and surgical evaluation may be warranted for patients with worsening neurologic function or persistent pain.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"