Neck pain when taking a breath is a common problem caused by bacterial infections, muscle injury, pulmonary embolism, and certain underlying conditions.
Neck pain is a common issue that affects people of all ages. While neck pain is often caused by injuries during accidents and sporting activities, some medical conditions can also cause it. The pain can be acute, lasting from days to a couple of weeks, or chronic, lasting over three months. Medical practitioners can conduct physical exams and tests to diagnose the main cause of neck pain. They will then recommend the most effective treatment regimen to resolve the issue.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Neck Pain?
- 2 What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain
- 3 Neck Pain Causes When Taking a Breath
- 4 How is Neck Pain When Breathing Diagnosed?
- 5 Treatment Remedies for Neck Pain
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 When I take a deep breath my neck and shoulder hurts?
- 6.2 Can lung problems cause neck pain?
- 6.3 Can tight neck muscles affect breathing?
- 6.4 Why does my upper back neck hurt when I breathe?
- 6.5 When I breathe I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder?
- 6.6 What is the sharp pain when I breathe?
- 6.7 Can neck and shoulder pain affect breathing?
- 6.8 What part of neck affects breathing?
- 6.9 What nerve in the neck affects breathing?
- 6.10 Why does the back of my neck hurt when I breathe through the nose?
What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, is pain that affects the area in or around your spine just beneath the head. The pain’s intensity can range from acute to chronic, depending on its cause and severity. Neck pain can be accompanied by muscle stiffness, headaches, and inability to move the head. Contacting a medical practitioner for medication is recommended if the pain is severe, persists for many days, or affects the limbs.
What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain
Pain in the Neck
Pain is the most common symptom of neck pain. The pain often affects the areas in and around the neck bones. Acute pain in the neck has an achy feeling, while chronic pain can feel like an electric shock.
Stiffness is another common symptom of neck pain. The stiffness, which affects the neck discs, nerves, and muscles, makes it hard and painful to move the neck. Stiffness in the neck can also impact bones in your vertebrae.
Muscle Tightening in the Neck
Neck pain can manifest itself in the form of tightening muscles. The involuntary tightening can exacerbate pain, making it difficult to move the neck, head, and shoulders.
It is common to experience headaches when suffering pain in the neck. Pain often compresses, strains, or irritates nerves in the neck, which could lead to potential headache episodes. This kind of headache is often known as occipital neuralgia and is notorious for affecting the posterior part of the head.
Another common symptom of neck pain is radiating pain. Instead of affecting the neck alone, the pain can radiate to other parts of the body, including the arms and legs. Unlike referred neck pain, radiating pain travels in waves and is a sign of a more serious issue.
Numbing and Tingling Sensations
Numbing and tingling, also referred to as pins-and-needles sensations, are other normal symptoms attributed to neck pain. Besides affecting the neck, the numbness and tingling feelings can spread to the limbs. The sensations, which lead to loss of feeling in the neck and other affected areas, vary in intensity based on their cause.
Weakness in the Neck
Pain atrophy of muscles in the neck makes it weak and challenging to move. Severe weakness caused by chronic neck pain can make the head feel heavy.
Neck pain can cause difficulty swallowing problems. This is especially common in neck conditions caused by infections. Issues affecting the neck can irritate the neck, resulting in pain whenever you swallow anything. While the pain caused by swallowing problems is usually concentrated on the throat, it can spread to the breastbone.
Your neck can become tender when it is painful. Serious tenderness can lead to more pain and make moving the head or neck challenging.
The list of neck pain symptoms attributed to neck pain cannot be complete without neck crepitus, which refers to clicking or popping noise in the joints. Painful and repetitive neck crepitation issues point to a serious problem.
Neck Pain Causes When Taking a Breath
The common cause of neck pain is bacterial infections that start in the throat. Streptococcal and other disease-causing bacteria can attack the throat, leading to a tender and swollen pharynx. The tenderness can cause pain that increases when moving the neck or swallowing food. If left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread to other internal body parts and cause more harm.
Strain or Injury to the Neck Muscles
Strain, trauma, and other injuries to muscles in the neck can cause pain. Strain or injury to the neck always happens when the head is bent, turned, or twisted rapidly or in an abnormal way. Excess weight on the head can also strain muscles in the neck, causing pain. Whiplash, in which the neck undergoes a forceful back-and-forth movement, is the main injury known for causing neck pain. Collisions during a sporting activity, physical abuse, and other types of traumas, such as falls, can strain the neck muscles.
Blood clot in the lungs, or pulmonary embolism, is another cause of neck pain in people. This condition occurs when one or more arteries in the lungs get blocked by blood clots. These clots often come from the legs, although some can originate from other body parts. The most noticeable sign of pulmonary embolism is intense pain around the neck and shoulders. Your chest and arms can also be affected. Treating blood clots in the lungs is the best way to eliminate neck pain caused by pulmonary embolism.
Underlying Health Conditions
Certain underlying health conditions are infamous for causing neck pain problems. Disc degeneration is one underlying condition that causes pain in and around the neck by deteriorating parts of the spinal column. Heart disease is another underlying illness that causes pain in the neck. This kind of pain is usually accompanied by shortness of breath. Another underlying medical issue that can cause neck pain is osteoarthritis, which is a type of arthritis that affects the spine.
How is Neck Pain When Breathing Diagnosed?
Physical examination is widely used to diagnose neck pain when breathing. During the examination test, a medical professional will evaluate your neck for numbness, tenderness, and weakness. In the meantime, the medic will ask about your day-to-day activities and past neck pain issues. The examination helps identify the site of pain and enables practitioners to make informed choices.
Range of Motion Assessments
Medical experts can perform a range of motion tests to diagnose neck pain when breathing. These tests measure flexibility involving bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and joints in the neck. Restricted range of motion indicates neck pain.
Imaging tests are instrumental in diagnosing neck pain. An X-ray test is conducted to show affected areas in the neck, while a CT scan is done to provide a detailed view of internal neck structures. An MRI scan and electromyography are other tests that can be done to diagnose neck pain.
Treatment Remedies for Neck Pain
Pharmacological medications, especially pain relievers, are widely used to treat neck pain. Medications designed to treat the root causes of neck pain are effective as well. Use medications only as instructed.
Your practitioner may recommend physical therapy to treat neck pain issues. Traction and muscle-strengthening exercises are popular physical therapy methods used to deal with pain in the neck. Engaging in low-impact exercises is another effective physical therapy regimen that you can use.
Treatment Plans Developed by Physical Therapists
Following a treatment plan your physical therapist provides is superb for quick recovery. The practitioner can provide guided stretches and exercises to relax your neck to free any tension-causing pain.
Chiropractic care by a specialist may help lessen neck pain. A chiropractor will manipulate the affected spinal area by adjusting the vertebrae to release tension and discomfort. Several visits to the chiropractor are recommended for full recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
When I take a deep breath my neck and shoulder hurts?
Seek medical treatment if your neck and shoulder hurt when you take a deep breath.
Can lung problems cause neck pain?
Lung problems, especially blood clots, can lead to neck pain.
Can tight neck muscles affect breathing?
The compressions of muscles in the neck affect breathing by restricting airflow and reducing respiratory performance.
Why does my upper back neck hurt when I breathe?
Muscle strain, bacterial infection, pulmonary embolism, and underlying conditions can cause pain in your neck.
When I breathe I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder?
Severe neck pain can radiate pain to the shoulders.
What is the sharp pain when I breathe?
Sharp pain when you breathe results from bacterial infection, pulmonary embolism, muscle strain, and underlying diseases.
Can neck and shoulder pain affect breathing?
Neck and shoulder pain adversely affect breathing, leading to reduced respiratory volumes.
What part of neck affects breathing?
The throat impacts breathing. It is in the front part of the neck and includes the pharynx and larynx.
What nerve in the neck affects breathing?
The phrenic nerve in the neck influences breathing. This nerve controls the diaphragm, making your lungs expand and contract when breathing in and out.
Why does the back of my neck hurt when I breathe through the nose?
Your neck can hurt when you breathe through the nose due to bacterial infection, pulmonary embolism, muscle strain, and underlying diseases.