JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Neck Pain: Initial Evaluation and Management

Marc A Childress, Samantha Jayne Stuek
American Family Physician 2020 August 1, 102 (3): 150-156
32735440
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.

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