Axial Neck Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Young woman holding her neck and talking with female doctor.

Axial Neck Pain typically presents itself with pain or soreness in the posterior neck muscles. This means the pain is maintained in the neck, back of the shoulders, or base of the skull, and it does not go through the arms or upper extremities. Oftentimes, this is referred to as Mechanical Neck Pain.


When experiencing axial neck pain you may feel pain in one or both sides of your neck, or other symptoms such as:

  • Stiffness
  • Restricted Motions
  • Headaches- side of the neck or around the eyes
  • Soreness
  • Pain in shoulders


In most cases, axial neck pain stems from some type of damaged muscles or soft tissues like ligaments. This type of pain is classified as musculoskeletal. Pain is worsened by neck extension and repeated rotation of the neck. About one-third of cases go from acute pain to chronic because conservative treatment is just not enough.


Treating Axial Neck Pain early is key to not go from acute to chronic. To start, acupuncture can be effective but it is not medically proven. Neck collars are sometimes prescribed in the beginning if the pain is not extreme.

  • Epidural Steroid Injections: Interlaminar and Transforaminal epidural steroid injections have shown to have the most positive outcomes when treating axial neck pain. This is usually quick and has a success rate of over 90%.
  • Medial Branch Block: this procedure includes a local anesthetic being injected in or near the medial nerves connected to a facet joint. If the pain is relieved immediately this indicates that this is the joint that is causing you pain. This is known to be highly effective.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation: the area of pain will be numbed with cream and then a needle will be entered there and a small amount of electrical current is passed through the needle to the target area. The targeted nerves will be numbed to minimize pain and the heat from the needle will disrupt the nerves ability to send pain signals to the brain.


Recognizing the exact cause of your neck pain can be difficult because it can arise from various conditions. Annually, 30-50% of adults complain of neck pain and most people do at least once in a lifetime. This is why it is important to be able to narrow down the reasons you are experiencing neck pain to get the correct diagnosis and optimal treatment plan. Schedule an appointment with IMS Pain Management today.

tarsal tunnel syndrome


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