Spine & Orthopedic Pain Centers

Cervical Neck Pain

Cervical disc disease or degenerative disease (DJD) may be the most common cause of neck pain. It’s commonly caused by an abnormality in one or more discs, the cushions that lie between the neck bones (vertebrae). When a disc is damaged, usually due to wear or tear (degeneration) or to disc herniation, it can lead to neck pain from inflammation or muscle spasms.

In severe cases, pain and numbness can occur in the arms from nerve irritation or damage from a pinched nerve. This pain is called a cervical radiculopathy and occurs when a nerve in the neck is irritated as it leaves the spinal canal. This condition usually occurs when a nerve root is being pinched by a herniated disc or a bone spur. Pinched means compressed between two surfaces.

A cervical radiculopathy causes symptoms that radiate out away from the neck. This means that although the problem is in the spine, the symptoms may be felt in the shoulder, the arm, or the hand.

Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy are:

  • Neck pain.
  • Pain, numbness, tingling, burning, stabbing, throbbing, or muscle weakness that travels down the arm.
  • Loss of neck movement due to pain.
  • Muscle spasms.


Aging, injury, poor posture, and other issues can lead to problems in the neck.

Other causes include:

  • Damage/trauma to the disk in the cervical spine that presses on the nerve roots
  • Degeneration from wear and tear, aging, and arthritis which may lead to narrowing or stenosis-osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • An unstable spine from a slipped, herniated, or bulging disc or vertebra slipping forward

There are other, less common causes of pressure on nerves in the neck. These include infection, cysts, and tumors.

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