How Long Does Neck Pain Last? Duration by Cause

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Statistics show that neck pain is extremely prevalent, with around 10-20% of adults experiencing chronic, persistent neck discomfort at any given time. Acute neck strains from trauma or overuse affect the majority of people worldwide annually. 

This demonstrates the importance of understanding what’s causing your neck pain and how long you can expect it to last. We’ve outlined questions and answers in this article centered on neck pain duration based on its specific cause – as well as the best treatment options and interesting findings from studies. 

How long does neck pain from sleeping wrong last?

Neck pain resulting from sleeping in an awkward position or using an unsuitable pillow typically lasts 1 to 4 days as the strained muscles heal. For minor muscle and tendon strains, the neck pain from sleeping incorrectly usually resolves within a week at most.

The duration depends largely on the severity of the initial strain as well as if you continue reinjuring the area with improper sleeping postures. Contributing factors like pre-existing arthritis or disc disease may also prolong discomfort. Avoiding positions that aggravate pain while sleeping allows the fastest healing.

How long does a stiff neck last from sleeping wrong?

Based on our experience, a stiff neck caused by sleeping in an awkward position typically lasts up to a week as the strained muscles recover. Lingering discomfort over a week later may indicate a more severe muscle strain or pinched nerve.

As with neck pain, regularly sleeping in ways that torque the neck muscles prolongs stiffness. Using supportive pillows and avoiding stressing positions provides relief.

A study conducted by Auvinen et al. found that poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep are risk factors for neck and back pain. The study involved 1011 adolescents and found a significant association between neck pain and poor sleep quality in both boys and girls.

If neck stiffness persists beyond 2 weeks, specialist evaluation helps identify any underlying spinal issues needing specific treatment to prevent chronic problems.

The AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians’) suggests that moderate to severe neck pain that lasts longer than six weeks and does not resolve with standard treatment may warrant further investigation, such as an MRI.

How long does a pinched neck nerve last?

neck pain from pinched nerve

According to specialists, mild nerve pinches may heal on their own within 4 to 6 weeks using conservative treatment. However, moderate pinches causing significant pain, and neurological symptoms often take 1 to 3 months to resolve.

Severe pinches irritating neural structures extensively can in some cases take over 6 months to heal fully even with treatment. The duration depends greatly on the severity of the impingement, which spinal nerves are affected, and the efficacy of therapy.

Pinched nerves often result from herniated discs, bone spurs, or tight muscles compressing the spinal cord. Nerve root impingement in the cervical spine frequently causes radiating pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Cleveland Clinic both recommend rest as the most frequently suggested treatment for a pinched nerve.

How long does whiplash neck pain last?

Whiplash injury symptoms peak within 2 to 4 weeks of the accident as inflammation increases. Most people – around 80-90% – will recover from a single whiplash injury within 3 to 6 months.

However, 10-20% of people report pain lingering over a year. Promptly starting treatments like soft collars, ice, massage, and gentle stretches helps minimize long-term issues. 

Age over 45, high initial pain levels, and structural damage predict slower recovery. If pain persists after 6 months, imaging scans help assess bone alignment or disc herniations needing specific care.

Some factors can prolong whiplash neck pain including older age, high initial pain levels, and extent of tissue damage. 

A study conducted in Lithuania, where there is little awareness of chronic pain resulting from rear-end collisions, found that the median duration of neck pain after whiplash was 3 days, with a maximum duration of 17 days.

How long does splenius capitis pain last?

How long splenius capitis pain lasts can vary greatly depending on the cause and severity of the injury, as well as the individual’s overall health and response to treatment.

This study evaluated the reliability of quantitative sensory tests (QSTs) over time. It involved 20 healthy women who participated in three experimental sessions: baseline, 2 weeks, and 6 months. 

The pressure pain thresholds (PPT) in the neck, upper back, and leg were measured. The study found that the reliability for PPT was excellent for all sites at 2 weeks and from good to excellent at 6 months. This suggests that pain in the splenius capitis muscle could last for a few weeks to a few months.

Splenius capitis pain may linger longer if underlying postural issues or muscle imbalances go unaddressed. Applying ice packs, using OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and performing targeted neck stretches and exercises helps promote complete healing. 

Consult a doctor if severe neck pain persists beyond 1 month.

How long does trapezius pain last?

trapezius muscle pain and neck pain

Based on our experience, trapezius muscle pain from strains, knots, or tension usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks with proper self-care. As a large muscle extending along the upper back and neck, the trapezius is prone to strains and painful spasms called knots when overused.

However, recurring stress leads to chronic tightness. Prolonged computer use and poor posture are common culprits, requiring correction to resolve pain long-term.  

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information involved participants who had pain duration of 3 months or more. This suggests that trapezius pain can indeed become chronic and severe, warranting medical attention.

How long does sternocleidomastoid pain last?

Straining the sternocleidomastoid muscle or associated tendons typically causes moderate neck pain that lasts depending on the severity of the injury. In some cases, patients may experience relief from symptoms relatively quickly with appropriate treatment, while others may have symptoms that persist for weeks or even months.

A study conducted by the NCBI discusses a case of a patient with sternocleidomastoid syndrome, a condition that can cause neck pain. The patient experienced symptoms intermittently, lasting from minutes to a few hours at a time, with a frequency of three to twelve episodes per week.

Rotating the head and swallowing can aggravate pain from a sternocleidomastoid strain. Using ice packs, getting massages, and avoiding motions that trigger pain facilitates recovery. 

How long does scalene muscle pain last?

Based on our experience, scalene muscle strains usually heal fairly quickly within 2 to 4 weeks using conservative treatment methods, but the duration is still influenced by the cause. 

There are three scalene muscles on each side of the neck that lift the upper ribs during breathing while also helping flex and rotate the neck. Due to this demanding function, scalene strains producing acute neck pain are common.

Applying ice packs, taking OTC analgesics, and performing gentle neck exercises often relieve discomfort. Consult a doctor if severe breathing problems accompany scalene muscle pain.

How long does levator scapulae pain last?

how long does neck pain last

Overuse and awkward positions that strain these muscles lead to moderate neck stiffness and shoulder pain lasting for as short as a few weeks or as long as a couple of months.

Applying ice immediately after injury, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and doing light stretches help alleviate levator scapulae pain.

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) involved 66 subjects with chronic neck pain and scapular dyskinesia. It found that adding scapular exercises to neck exercises had a more significant effect in decreasing pain intensity and increasing cervical range of motion than neck exercises alone. The study concluded that focusing on the scapular posture in the rehabilitation of chronic neck pain effectively improves the symptoms.

Kaly recommends seeing your doctor if symptoms last beyond one month, as that may indicate a pinched nerve. Targeted physical therapy provides lasting relief.

How long does pain last after cervical neck surgery?

Procedures like anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery for herniated discs or bone spurs compressing the spinal cord have an initial recovery period of 4 to 6 weeks with gradual improvement over 6 to 12 months as fusion progresses.

The recovery duration after cervical spine surgery depends greatly on the specific procedure performed and location, as well as individual factors like age and fitness level. 

In a study of patients who underwent surgery for cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, 11.6% of patients showed postoperative neck pain deterioration six months after surgery, and 17.4% showed postoperative neck pain deterioration two years after surgery.

One study conducted at a Midwest academic medical center examined 108 patients who underwent ACDF. The study found that factors such as age, severity of the neurological deficit, preoperative myelopathy, pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, alcohol use, and body mass index can influence the outcome after cervical spine surgery.

Physical therapy focusing on strength, mobility, and range of motion is critical for maximizing outcomes. Some residual discomfort, stiffness, and numbness can linger long-term depending on individual circumstances. 

Close follow-up with your surgeon helps monitor progress milestones.

How long does pain last after ACDF surgery?

The initial postoperative ACDF recovery period usually spans 2 to 6 weeks involving rest, wearing a neck brace, pain management, and light activity. Over the next 3 months up to a year, pain should gradually subside as the complete fusion of the vertebrae occurs. However, some residual discomfort is common. 

One study investigated the outcomes 6 months and 3 years after ACDF surgery. It found that there were no significant differences between the 6-month and 3-year outcomes, indicating that pain should gradually subside over the course of 6-12 months as complete fusion of the vertebrae occurs.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery aims to resolve arm and neck nerve pain caused by damaged discs or bone spurs in the cervical spine. This procedure removes the damaged disc and inserts a bone graft to fuse together the vertebral bones for stabilization.

Focused physical therapy helps manage pain and regain strength and mobility after ACDF surgery.

A study conducted by spine surgeons at an academic institution found that the average time for starting physical therapy after ACDF surgery is approximately 8.75 weeks.

How long does neck pain last after adenoidectomy?

Neck pain after adenoidectomy tends to last for several days to a few weeks. Many children experience neck pain that may require pain medication for as long as 7-10 days.

Adenoidectomies surgically remove enlarged or infected adenoid glands in the throat, usually to improve breathing problems. This straightforward procedure rarely causes neck issues. 

To minimize postoperative neck discomfort, patients should avoid vigorous physical activities for at least 2 weeks after an adenoidectomy. 

See your ENT doctor if significant neck pain emerges or persists longer than 2 weeks, as that may indicate a complication requiring examination. Proper rest and recovery help prevent unnecessary neck strain.

How long does neck pain last after Botox?

Injected areas may remain sore for approximately 5-10 days after the procedure as the toxins take effect based on our specialists’ experience. Therapeutic effects take time to emerge, with maximal pain relief occurring around 4-6 weeks post-injection.

Some residual discomfort is common for 2-3 months following botox treatment until the effects fully subside. Specialists inject Botox directly into specific neck muscles as a treatment for chronic neck and headache pain. 

A study presented a case of a 45-year-old female with chronic headaches and neck pain who was treated with Botox-A. She experienced pain relief following the initial treatment that lasted up to 3–4 months and has since undergone subsequent trials of Botox with the same results. 

How long does cervical epidural steroid injection last?

Pain relief typically starts 1-5 days after the epidural injection, gradually reaching maximum effect around 2 weeks post-procedure. The duration of benefits ranges widely from 1-6 months or more before nerve inflammation reemerges. Multiple injections are often required for sustained pain management. Other treatments are usually incorporated long-term.

Another study, conducted by Lee et al. found that 62% of the cases had relief with transforaminal cervical epidural steroid injection. At the mean follow-up of 39 months, 76% had complete relief of arm pain, and 24% had a mean pain score of 2. This study also found that 84% of the patients did not feel their symptoms interfered with their capacity to work.

Cervical epidural steroid injections deliver anti-inflammatory corticosteroids directly into the epidural space surrounding inflamed spinal nerves. 

According to Kaly specialists, injected steroids can provide significant neck, shoulder and arm pain relief for several months in cases of herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or nerve root compression.

How long does HIV neck pain last?

Considering most cases and all symptoms in general, HIV neck pain may last for a few weeks up to 3 months. Based on our experience, the duration of neck discomfort relates closely to the underlying causative condition and how well treatment controls the symptoms. 

A study titled “HIV: An Epidemiologic study on Head and Neck Involvement in 50 Patients” conducted from 2007 to 2010 evaluated 50 patients with a proven HIV infection. The study found that head and neck presentations are very common in HIV patients, with neck manifestations occurring in 44% of the cases. 

For individuals living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), neck pain can arise from associated viral infections, inflammation, or nerve damage. 

Using anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and targeted injection steroids often effectively relieves inflammatory neck pain caused by HIV-associated sensory neuropathy or lymphadenitis. Consistently taking antiviral medications also helps manage HIV-related neck issues long-term. 

A case report titled “Development of Buffalo Hump in the course of antiretroviral therapy including raltegravir and unboosted atazanavir” discusses the use of antiretroviral therapy in treating HIV. The report suggests that antiretroviral therapy, including raltegravir and unboosted atazanavir, has a good safety profile coupled with potent antiviral activity.

See an HIV specialist promptly if neck symptoms become severe or disabling.

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doctor and patient consult on neck pain

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