Help me fix this pain in the neck
August 18, 2009 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Are these sudden, sharp twinges of pain in my neck normal?

For the last year I have noticed that something strange happens every two weeks or so. I'm going about my day-to-day business and I move my head in one direction or another (nothing too severe or forced) and PING! It feels like I have been shot with a BB or something on the side of my neck.

The pain is sharp and makes me reflex instinctively. The first time it happened, I really thought I had been hit with something. But it occurred again and now comes every so often. There's no warning and, though surprising and painful, no sensation lingers after a second - it is more startling than anything else. Both sides of my neck have been affected.

Is this common? Is there a name for it? Should I be going to any kind of medical professional?

posted by amicamentis to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Degenerative disc and/ or facet disease is the most common explanation for neck pain. You should visit an orthopedist to discuss your symptoms and, if necessary, get some imaging done. Sharp neck pain shouldn't be ignored- if you do have disc degeneration, and can identify it early enough, you might be able to mitigate it and avoid disc rupture, which, from personal experience, totally, totally sucks.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 7:00 AM on August 18, 2009

I used to get these when I was younger. Pinched nerve, I believe. Not degeneration--they've gone away as I got older.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:44 AM on August 18, 2009

Used to happen to me every so often; I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by aheckler at 7:53 AM on August 18, 2009

Yes, it is common. Could be lots of things, as indicated above, ranging from prolapsed disc to soft tissue dysfunction to tumor and beyond. See your GP and discuss it with them and they will refer to on for further diagnostics with relevant specialists. It might go away on it's own or it might get worse. If it's bothering you, see your GP. Have you ever had any injuries? Any other neurological symptoms?
Best case scenario is they'll tell you it's due to bad posture and you should sit up straight and get a massage.
posted by goshling at 8:01 AM on August 18, 2009

Happens to me, has happened for all of my life that I can remember. It's always linked with a feeling of hotness for me, but isn't so much neck pain. It's more superficial, from the base of my scalp to the top. So . . . maybe it's different?

It is weird but I never worried about it.
posted by that girl at 8:24 AM on August 18, 2009

It kind of sounds like a "stinger" to me, where the swelling keeps coming back up. It can't hurt to have an x-ray. But, I'd say the likelyhood is that you'll be sent home with instructions on what over-the-counter stuff to use for the pain.

If an x-ray shows something really out of whack, you can try going to a chiropractor.
posted by Citrus at 10:12 AM on August 18, 2009

Thanks guys! I'm glad to hear that it's not one of those "OMG get to a doctor yesterday you have crazy neck cancer" kind of problems. I'll mention it next time I get to a GP.
posted by amicamentis at 9:19 PM on August 19, 2009

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