The Painful Neck: What Are The Causes Of Neck Pain And How To Find Instant Relief?


The neck is a tremendously vulnerable part of the spine and is extremely susceptible to injury.  Muscle, ligament, nerve, and spinal injuries are common causes of neck pain.  Poor posture and daily wear and tear activities can also result in neck pain.  Degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, can cause the spinal structures to break down and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

Studies show that approximately 10% to 15% of the world’s population suffer from an episode of neck pain at any time and 40% of the population will suffer from neck pain over a 12-month period.



Neck pain can cause sheer discomfort by spreading to the head, shoulders, arms, and hands.  The nature of the neck pain can be excruciating and can vary from a sharp pain to “pin and needles” sensations and can force you to visit neck and spine specialists in Singapore in hopes of some instant pain relief. It can be acute or chronic.  Acute neck pain begins suddenly, usually after an injury or trauma.  Acute neck pain resolves as the injury heals, usually within several days to weeks.  Chronic neck pain lasts longer than three months, may be constant and caused by structural changes in the spine or from degenerative diseases.


A detailed history and physical examination is necessary to identify the cause of the neck pain and to determine the appropriate course of treatment.  Neck pain is usually treated with non-surgical conventional methods.  However, if symptoms progress or continue, there are a variety of neck and spine specialists in Singapore to help you find instant neck pain relief.

Causes Of Neck Pain:

 Neck pain is caused by abnormalities in the soft tissues, nerves, discs, or vertebrae of the neck.  The soft tissues comprising muscles, tendons, and ligaments, can strain from over exertion, poor posture, physical stress, and injury.  Motor vehicle accidents, sports, falls, or violence are causes of neck injuries.

The spinal nerves cause neck pain when they are compressed, pinched, or irritated.  This commonly occurs from structural changes in the spine like from abnormal outgrowths called bone spurs, caused by a degenerative condition called Osteoarthritis. Bone spurs can also contribute to a condition in which the spinal canal is narrowed, called Spinal Stenosis – an intensely painful disease of the neck and spine.  Other degenerative diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the spinal structures to thicken and extend into the spinal canal over time, causing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in severe pain.

Neck pain reliefAge, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis are also leading causes of neck and spine pain.

Management Of Neck Pain:

Your doctor can determine the cause of your neck pain. There are many qualified neck and spine specialists in Singapore and pain management clinics who deal with such cases every day. After a thorough history and physical examination, the specialist might order some special tests or imaging to aid diagnosis. These include X-rays, bone scans, Myelograms, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Discogram, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS).

Treatment of neck pain includes:

  • Medications: for instant neck pain relief, over-the-counter drugs like Paracetamol (Panadol), Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen are commonly used. If the symptoms do not improve significantly with these medications, the specialist may inject your neck with pain relieving medications. Some other pharmacological agents used to provide instant neck pain relief include: Topical analgesic agents, Muscle relaxants, Steroids, Anticonvulsants and tricyclic antidepressants and Opioids.
  • Physiotherapy or Occupational therapy: therapists can provide treatments to reduce neck pain, muscle spasms, and swelling. These include modalities, such as heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.  The therapists will also show you exercises to gently stretch and strengthen the neck muscles. These include neck rotation, neck tilting and neck bending exercises.  Aquatic therapy may also relax your body and provide instant neck pain relief. Massage, biofeedback, acupressure, ultrasonography, electrotherapy, diathermy, ethyl chloride spray and stretch are various treatment modalities that are commonly used to treat neck pain.
  • Ice and heat: For acute injuries ice is recommended as the initial treatment, especially if there is swelling and inflammation. Heat can also help to reduce neck pain. Moist heat with a shower, hot bath, or moist towel warmed in a microwave are usually beneficial.
  • Postural re-education: To avoid neck, shoulder and back pain, make sure that the posture is correct especially when sitting at work or at the computer. Apply postures that emphasize a neutral neck position and minimize tension across the supporting shoulder and back muscles.
  • Surgery: Surgery is recommended when non-surgical methods have provided minimal or no improvement of your symptoms. These constitute surgeries like Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, Spinal Fusion and Laminectomy.

What To Expect When I Visit The Pain Relief Clinic

A typical visit will involve our doctor first understanding your medical history, concerns and previous experience with other pain treatments.

For patients who have consulted many people but have yet to receive a clear diagnosis, selecting an affordable imaging scan might be recommended to confirm the cause of your pain..

Some patients have already done scans with other doctors for their pain condition but are still not clearly told what they suffer from.

Dr Terence Tan is happy to offer you a second opinion and recommend how best to manage your condition.

We also see patients who already have a confirmed diagnosis from specialist pain doctors, but are "stuck” because treatment options offered are not practical or acceptable.

We can help by discussing options that you might have potentially never been told of.

A common experience is when a patient has already consulted a specialist doctor for pain management and is told to consider orthopaedic surgery which they find too aggressive.

Or they may have seen doctors for their pain and were prescribed painkillers with potential side effects which made them feel uncomfortable.

Many of our patients have also first tried complementary treatments or acupuncture with traditional Chinese pain doctors.

They look for a second opinion after finding any relief experienced from other treatments to be temporary or requiring repetitive treatments, which add up to time and cost.

Especially in such situations, we emphasize using non-invasive medical technology you likely have not been told about .

This can make a big difference to your results.