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Sudden Neck Pain

Madhura Pandit Apr 20, 2019
Severe pain in the neck, followed by other symptoms, can be caused due to several reasons. Here is information on the potential causes and treatment methods.
Neck pain occurs due to a variety of reasons. The pain can be dull, aching that lasts for a long time or can be sharp and excruciating that arises suddenly. Most of the time, neck pain is accompanied with shoulder or jaw pain, which can be a symptom of a severe underlying disease.


Improper posture is a common cause of neck pain. Sitting or sleeping in an incorrect position leads to pain in the neck. On the other hand, bending down or craning the neck for a longer time can also lead to pain.

Neck Injury

An injury or trauma caused due to accident, violence or fracture leads to neck pain. A severe blow to the neck can even make a person unconscious. Similarly, sprain in the neck is also one of the causes of sudden pain.


Meningitis is a condition caused when the meninges or tissues surrounding the brain get inflamed. It is of 2 types: bacterial meningitis (caused by bacteria) and viral meningitis (caused by virus). High fever, severe headache, neck pain and stiffness, confusion, etc., are some symptoms of meningitis. It's a significant cause of sudden neck pain in children.

Whiplash Injury

Whiplash injury occurs due to sudden and rapid acceleration or deceleration of a fast-moving vehicle. It results in injury to muscles or tissues due to the sudden jerk. Swelling, throbbing neck pain, and headache are the prominent symptoms of whiplash injury.

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis occurs due to wear and tear or degeneration of the tissues or discs situated in between two vertebrae. This is an age related disorder which leads to neck pain, stiffness, shoulder pain, etc.

Herniated Disc in Neck

Herniated disc occurs when the discs between two consecutive vertebrae rupture or slip from their location. It is also known as slipped disc or ruptured disc. Age, obesity, accident, etc., are the causes of herniated disc. Sudden sharp pain in the neck, that may travel to the back is the major symptom of this condition.


If a person experiences sudden neck pain that lasts for more than a couple of hours, he/she should consult the doctor immediately. The doctor will advise physical examination, X-ray or MRI in order to diagnose the condition. Treatment of injury depends on the cause and severity.
In minor cases, using an ice pack, cold compress, etc., may be helpful, while in severe cases, hospitalization or even a surgery may be required. Bacterial meningitis can be treated with the help of antibiotics. On the other hand, taking rest and having plenty of fluids is the method of treating viral meningitis.
Whiplash injury can be treated with painkillers, bed rest, hot or cold pack and physical therapy. There is no permanent cure for cervical spondylosis. However, there are many painkillers that help in neck pain relief. One can use neck braces, use hot or cold pack and take rest to ease the pain. Herniated disc is also treated with the aforementioned methods.
One should note that the neck is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and hence, one needs to be careful while performing activities which may cause an injury to the neck. Lastly, note that this is to be used only for informative purposes. Take care!
Disclaimer: This is purely for informative purposes, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.