Neck pain is often a result of overuse of the muscles and ligaments in the neck from sports, recreational activities, work or household chores. It is generally characterized by stiffness, a kink or severe pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back and/or arms. Neck pain can also be caused by stress, trauma or injury or may be a symptom of the flu or meningitis.
A neck strain refers to the pain resulting from a spasm of the muscles or inflammation of the joints in the neck. Shooting pains through the arms, hands and fingers may indicate a pinched nerve in the neck. Mild neck strains or sprains can be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter medications. More severe cases may require prescription medication, physical therapy and, in the most severe cases, surgery.
The neck houses and protects the top portion of the spine, known as the cervical spine. It is possible to fracture or dislocate bones in the cervical spine through injury or trauma, which can lead to paralysis. This type of injury requires immediate medical attention.