Many adults experience neck pain. The pain may involve not just the neck, but also the shoulders, and may even radiate down the arms. The pain may be a dull type of ache or like an electric shock that shoots into the arm. Pain in the right side of neck may have different causes and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in an arm.
Possible Causes of Pain in Right Side of Neck
1. Cervical Spondylosis
This is a common condition involving wear-and-tear (degeneration) of the spinal disks in your neck. The disks between the bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) may get dehydrated and shrink as you age, leading to osteoarthritis and development of bony projections along the bone edges.
Most people with cervical spondylosis have no symptoms. However, some people may experience pain in right side of neck. Cervical spondylosis may result in narrowing of the space where the spinal cord and nerve roots pass in the neck. Pinching of the spinal cord or nerve roots in the neck may also result in:
- Tingling, numbness or weakness in the arm, hand, leg or foot
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
Treatments may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Examples include prescription-strength ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
- Muscle relaxants. These drugs relieve muscle spasms that can cause pain. Examples include cyclobenzaprine and methocarbamol.
- Antidepressants. These medications help reduce neck pain caused by cervical spondylosis.
Mild pain in right side of neck caused by cervical spondylosis may respond to certain home remedies such as the following:
- Regular exercise. Maintain regular activity to speed recovery, but you may have to modify some of your exercisestemporarily because of pain. Studies show that people who walk every day have a lower risk of experiencing neck pain and back pains.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Common OTC medications like Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or acetaminophen are often effective in controlling the neck pain due to cervical spondylosis.
- Heat and ice. Apply warm compress or ice pack to your neck to comfort your sore neck.
- Soft neck brace. Allow your neck muscles to rest by using a neck brace for short periods of time. Avoid using it for long periods because it may cause weakening of the neck muscles.
A sudden backward and forward movement of the head that occurs with great force can cause a whiplash injury. This type of injury is a very common result of a rear-end car collision, but it can also result from sports injuries, physical abuse, or park rides. During a whiplash, the muscles and ligaments of the neck extend beyond their typical range of motion, causing soft tissue damage.
Symptoms such as pain in right side of neck may not be apparent immediately, so it is important to take note of any physical changes a few days following an accident.
A whiplash may be followed by the appearance of symptoms within 24 hours or even after a few days. These symptoms can last for several weeks. These symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Neck pain, stiffness
Less common symptoms from a chronic whiplash include:
- Chronic neck pain, shoulder pain or head pain
- Concentration and memory problems
- Inability to sleep well
- Ringing in the ears
The treatment of whiplash is relatively simple, usually involving over-the-counter pain medications like paracetamol or aspirin. However, for more severe injuries, prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants may be needed to relieve muscle spasms.
Other treatments include physical therapy, which plays an important role in your recovery. Ice or heat may be applied to the neck. Simple exercises may be done to build muscle strength and neck flexibility. You must also practice good posture and learn relaxation techniques, which contribute to faster recovery.
You may also be instructed to use a soft foam collar to help keep your neck stable. This must be worn for not more than three hours at a time, and used only on the first couple of days after the injury.
Other possible remedies to treat pain in right side of neck from whiplash injury:
- Electronic nerve stimulation
3. Muscle Strain
Overuse of muscles can occur from spending many hours working over the computer or cell phone. You can also strain your neck muscles from doing minor things like gritting your teeth or reading in bed.
4. Worn Joints
Your neck joints can get worn down with age. Just like other joints in the body, these joints can suffer from osteoarthritis, which is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage between the vertebrae. Your body also develops bone spurs that can affect neck joint motion and cause pain in right side of neck.
5. Injury to Brachial Plexus
Brachial plexus is a group of nerves that connect the spine with shoulder, arm and hand. Damage to these nerves, such as when overly stretched or torn in contacts sports and falls, would result in pain in the neck and shoulder, or numbness and weakness in the affected arm.
6. Cervical Disc Herniation
Pain in neck, shoulder or arm, either in the left side or right side, is quite common with cervical disc herniation, which happens when the annulus fibrosis cracks, making the nucleus pulposus to protrude into the intervertebral foramen or spinal canal. When that happens, the spinal nerves roots that use the intervertebral foramen to exit the spinal column may become compressed by the herniated disc, causing pain, numbness or weakness.
7. Other Causes
Injuries such as bone spurs in the cervical vertebrae can cause pressure on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord, causing neck pain. Certain conditions such as meningitis,rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer, must be investigated when the cause of neck pain is not apparent.
When to Worry
You should call 911, contact your local emergency number or ask someone to drive you to the emergency room if you experience severe neck pain associated with:
- Muscle weakness. Sudden or progressive weakness in your arm or leg may be a serious problem.
- Traumatic injury. Trauma from car collisions, falls or diving accidents can cause serious complications.
- High fever. High temperature with severe neck pain may be an indication of meningitis, or an infection of the membranes covering your brain and spinal cord.