The most worrisome causes of neck pain rarely cause severe pain, and common problems like slipped discs are usually much less serious than people fear. Sharp and stabbing pains are usually false alarms. Only about 1% of neck pain is ominous, and even then it’s often still treatable. Most of the 1% are due to cancer, autoimmune disease, or spinal cord damage.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
Stabilization surgery is sometimes—but not always—done at the same time as a decompression surgery. In some forms of decompression surgery, the surgeon may need to remove a large portion of the vertebra or vertebrae. That results in an unstable spine, meaning that it moves in abnormal ways, and that puts you more at risk for serious neurological injury. In that case, the surgeon will restabilize the spine. Commonly, this is done with a fusion and spinal instrumentation, or implantation of an artificial disc.
Sharp neck pain is not in itself a red flag. Believe it or not there is no common worrisome cause of neck pain that is indicated by a sharp quality. In fact, oddly, sharp pains are actually a bit reassuring, despite how they feel. In isolation — with no other obvious problem — they usually indicate that you just have a temporary, minor source of irritation in the cervical spine. Serious causes of neck pain like infections, tumours, and spinal cord problems tend grind you down with throbbing pains, not “stab” you.
Your neck and shoulders contain muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, and veins, as well as many ligaments and other supporting structures. Many conditions can cause pain in the neck and shoulder area. In fact, neck pain is the third most common type of pain according to the American Pain Foundation. It is estimated that 70% of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives.

Our family-based wellness practice helps children and adults alike. By getting your young ones checked as early as possible, we can prevent unwanted conditions that many people suffer from as adults. The birthing process may be the first time a child has trauma to their spine, so we recommend that you bring your baby in for a check as soon as possible after they’re born. Dr. Priestley has extensively trained with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and can treat expecting moms and children of all ages.
Our family-based wellness practice helps children and adults alike. By getting your young ones checked as early as possible, we can prevent unwanted conditions that many people suffer from as adults. The birthing process may be the first time a child has trauma to their spine, so we recommend that you bring your baby in for a check as soon as possible after they’re born. Dr. Priestley has extensively trained with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and can treat expecting moms and children of all ages.
Whats to know about radiculopathy? Radiculopathy describes a nerve being pinched by the spine. This can cause discomfort, weakness, and numbness, and can be treated with medication and physical therapy. This article explains the causes of this painful condition, how it is diagnosed, and how a person might go about preventing the onset of radiculopathy. Read now
I finally met the chiropractor! We started out by talking a little about the reason for my visit, and what my goals were. Next, he performed a Selective Functional Movement Assessment, which basically helps the chiropractor find the root and cause of any symptoms—they do this by breaking down dysfunctional patterns logically rather than simply finding the obvious source of the pain.
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