Neurological Health Data Verified

What Causes Neck and Low Back Pain?

Published on Sep 12, 2014 and last reviewed on Jul 26, 2022   -  5 min read


Neck and back pain are one of the leading causes of disability in working adults worldwide. Read this article below to know more about it.

What Causes Neck and Low Back Pain?


The neck or back pain can limit mobility, interfere with normal functioning and quality of life in everyday life, and often renders great anxiety that a serious condition may have arrived.

Back pain can be a mild, dull, annoying ache, persistent, severe, or disabling pain. One should always consult a healthcare professional if they have persistent pain. Neck pain happens in the area of the cervical vertebrae in the neck. The neck is usually left unprotected and subject to injury due to its location and range of motion. Back or neck pain can be acute or chronic. While acute pain occurs suddenly and intensely, chronic pain persists for weeks, months, or even years. The pain can also be continuous or intermittent. Fortunately, people can take measures to prevent or relieve most back or neck pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple at-home treatment and proper body mechanics often heal the pain within a few weeks and keep it functional. Rarely is surgery required to treat back pain.

What Causes Neck and Back Pain?

The actual cause of back and neck pain is hard to determine. In most cases, it can have many different reasons, including any of the following conditions:

What Are the Symptoms of Neck and Back Pain?

Symptoms related to back pain may include:

Symptoms of neck pain include:

How Are Neck and Back Pain Diagnosed?

See a doctor for a medical and physical examination if someone experiences neck or back pain. The doctor can also help rule out more serious causes of back or neck pain. If the doctor suspects that a specific condition is causing the pain, the doctor may order one or more tests:

X-Ray: These images check the bone alignment and whether there is arthritis or broken bones.

MRI or CT Scans: These images help show herniated disks or problems with bones, muscles, ligaments, tissue, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels.

Blood Tests: The blood tests can help determine whether there is an infection or other condition that might be causing the pain.

Bone Scan: Rarely the doctor may use a bone scan to examine bone tumors or fractures caused by osteoporosis.

Nerve Studies: Electromyography (EMG) estimates the nerves' electrical impulses and the muscles' responses.

How Are Neck and Back Pain Treated?

Most back or neck pain improves within a month of at-home treatment. However, back pain is a complex condition. For many people, the pain resolves within a few months, but only a few have constant, severe pain.


Physical Therapy:

For chronic pain in the back and neck, several remedies can be helpful before taking surgical options. These remedies include:


People with unrelenting radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness resulting from nerve compression can benefit from surgery. In addition, surgical procedures are often done for pain related to structural problems, like narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk that has failed to respond to other therapy.

How Are Neck and Back Pain Prevented?

The following tips may help prevent back and neck pain:


Neck and back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in working adults worldwide. The pain can limit mobility and interfere with normal functioning and quality of life. Fortunately, one can take measures to prevent or relieve most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home-based treatment and medications can heal the back within a few weeks and keep it functional. Understanding the mechanism of the neck or low back pain is essential in establishing an accurate diagnosis and effectively managing the condition.


Frequently Asked Questions


How to Get Relieved From Neck and Back Pain?

To get relieved from neck and back pain, you can try:
- Applying ice to the area where there is pain.
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.
- Taking rest from sports activities and heavy lifting.
- Exercising your neck every day.
- Using good posture while sleeping.


Are My Lower Back and Neck Pain Correlated?

Lower back pain and neck pain are correlated even if they are present without the other. The connection between the lower back and neck is such that one's misalignment will always affect the other.


Why Do I Have Pain in My Neck and Back?

The definite cause of neck and back pain is hard to determine. In most cases, it is due to strenuous exercise, overuse, improper use such as repetitive heavy lifting, trauma, fractures, injury, or poor posture. The muscles, bones, and ligaments in the neck support the head and help with motion. When these have inflammation, abnormalities, and injury, they can cause stiffness in the neck or back pain.


Can Drinking Water Relieve Neck Pain?

Drinking water during the daytime can keep you hydrated and will prevent further degeneration of the cervical discs. Therefore, staying hydrated will help to prevent and relieve pain in the neck.


How to Sleep When I Have Neck or Shoulder Pain?

Sleeping on your back or side can help you keep the stress off from the neck and manage neck pain. Avoid sleeping on your back because it can put your neck at an awkward angle and may worsen the pain.


What Is the Best Therapy for Back and Neck Pain?

To promote healing and relieve pain in the neck and back, one can use over-the-counter medications such as Ketoprofen, Naproxen Sodium, and Aspirin. These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can effectively reduce pain and inflammation.


What Is the Initial Treatment for Neck Pain?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the initial treatment given for neck pain. These drugs work by reducing inflammation.


What Is the Quick Remedy to Get Relieved From Lower Back Pain?

The quick remedy to get relieved from lower back pain include:
- Using heat and cold where cold can provide a numbing effect and heat can relieve stiffness or ache.
- Exercise.
- Pain relief cream.
- Stretch.
- Managing or reducing stress.
- Applying Arnica (a homeopathic cream and gel) to reduce pain.
- Switch shoes.
- Workstation changes to avoid improper posture while working.
- Having enough sleep.


How to Identify Whether My Back Pain Is Muscular?

Your back pain can be muscular if you have the following symptoms:
- Pain in the back radiating to the buttocks but not transmitting to the legs.
- Spasm or muscle cramps in the back.
- Trouble while bending or walking.
- Back hurting more on movement and lighter on rest.
- Difficulty in standing upright.


How to Know Whether the Back Pain Is Severe?

- Sharp stabbing pain.
- Persistent fever.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Blood in stools and urine.
- Progressive numbness and weakness in legs.
- The sensation of tingling, pins, or needles.
- Pain at night.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Balance problem.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Swollen inflamed tissues.
- Sensitive to touch.
- Gradual worsening of pain despite relative rest.
- Pain not relieved or worsened by different positions.


How to Know if My Back Pain Is Related to the Heart?

Chest pain and back pain are the most common warning signs of a heart attack. The leading cause of heart attack is blood clots. When these blood clots lodges in the coronary artery (feeds the heart muscles), it avoids the backflow of blood into the heart. This may cause a crushing pain in the chest which may also radiate to the back. Therefore back pain is related to the heart.

Last reviewed at:
26 Jul 2022  -  5 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

What could be the cause of back pain and limited walking?

Query: Hi doctor, My mother who is 63 years old, suffering from back pain. She is not able to walk even 100 meters. After walking a short distance, she feels numb in her foot and needs to sit for some time to proceed further. While sleeping, she feels needle pricking like effect in either side of her back...  Read Full »

Why do I have severe pain in around my backbone?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 26-year-old male, and I get severe pain in the backbone and the surrounding area. What could it be?  Read Full »

What could be the reason for my severe back pain following a cervical polypectomy?

Query: Hi doctor, I had cervical polypectomy and was told to expect brown discharge. Now experiencing cramping, minor bleeding, vinegar smell, and severe back pain, to the point that I am dizzy and nauseous. A couple of days earlier had a bunch of discharge that looked like dark reddish and orangish skin....  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Muscle Spasm or Nsaids?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.