Neck pain history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: Robert G. Schwartz, M.D.[3],Piedmont Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, P.A.


A thorough medical history can help localize the pain to an anatomical structure and identify red flag symptoms which would warrant further investigation.

History and Symptoms

Neck stiffness/pain itself is a symptom. It can appear in many diseases. The characteristics of neck stiffness/pain is the following;

  • Pain: Pain often occurs after activities such as in reading neapaper, watching TV, using computer.
  • Muscle strain and tenderness
  • Neck stiffness in the mornings

A thorough medical history can help in narrowing down the causes of neck pain. The exact location of pain and its characteristics (nature, severity, exacerbating & relieving factors etc) should be determined. The duration of neck pain should be noted to differentiate acute, sub-acute and chronic neck pain. A history of trauma, fever, constitutional symptoms, neurological deficits, chest pain and social history should also be obtained. History of cancer and vascular disease in individuals over the age of 50 are red flags and further investigation is required.

Red flag symptoms eg. fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, weight loss, neurological findings raise suspicion of spinal cord injury, infection, tumors etc and also necessitate further investigation.[1]


  1. Cohen SP, Hooten WM (2017). "Advances in the diagnosis and management of neck pain". BMJ. 358: j3221. doi:10.1136/bmj.j3221. PMID 28807894.

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