A Pain in the Neck? Mr ALR Michael answers your FAQs…

Mr Antony Louis Rex Michael, SOL Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon (Spinal)
Claremont Clinics: Thursday & Saturday AM


The neck (cervical spine) is made up of multiple complex structures, the foundation are the vertebrae which join the skull at the top and the chest vertebrae (thoracic spine) at the bottom end. These bones are held together by the discs in front and the joints (facets) at the back. There are several muscles that control the movements of the neck. There are various ligaments that connect the bones, joints and discs together but in a way that allows a great range of movement in order to allow us to function day to day.

Why do we get neck pain?
The sources of neck pain are varied; the pain may originate from the facet joints, discs, muscles, ligaments and also nerves. Genetics, lifestyle, posture and some occupations may predispose the development of neck pain. Degeneration (arthritis) is probably the most common cause.
How do I know the source of my neck pain?
This is a difficult question! No one can ever be sure, there are however several clues from the site, severity, nature and distribution of the pain. For example, pain in the back of the neck which is always in the same spot and tender could be related to facet joint arthritis.
What areas can neck pain affect?
Pain originating from the spine can be felt in the back of the head, shoulders, between the shoulder blades etc. Pain going down into the hands or feeling like electric shocks may be due to nerves being compressed.
How can I be sure it is not serious?
While neck pain can be very troublesome, serious causes of neck pain are thankfully very rare! Your doctor/consultant will be able to diagnose serious causes of neck pain from the questions they ask you. The definite answer may require further investigations such as MRI scans, blood tests etc.
How can I manage my neck pain?
The first step is to understand that it is not a serious or life threatening condition. Lifestyle modifications, postural adjustments, exercise and specific physiotherapy will help. If severe you may need a short course of painkillers but it is important not to be dependant on them. Your consultant will be able to advise on the best course of action.
Will I need an operation?
It is very rare that you need an operation on your neck (cervical spine) for pain that is due to mechanical or degenerative causes. Pain due to nerve compression may need surgery of which there are different types. Further information can be found here.
A private consultation with Mr Michael at Claremont is £200 if you don’t have health insurance. To book an appointment, call our friendly Private Patient Team on 0114 263 2114 or email You will need a referral letter from your GP or you can see one of our Private GPs if you prefer.  
Copyright ALR Michael, 2017.


Date: 28/07/2017
By: technical