What is Cervicalgia?

Cervicalgia: Significant Pain in the Neck, Back or Sides

What is Cervicalgia

Cervicalgia is a term used to describe pain or significant discomfort in the neck, particularly the back and/or sides. Another way cervicalgia is described is as intense forms of pain that localized to the region of your cervical spine. (The cervical spine is the area from the first spinal vertebra through the 7th. The bone below the 7th cervical vertebra, is not the 8th, as one might expect, but rather the first thoracic vertebra.

This is because it is attached to the first rib and is now associated with your thoracic spine instead of your cervical spine.)

A Diagnosis of Cervicalgia?

Cervicalgia is a bit of a catch-all term. The ICD-10, which is the coding system most physicians and therapists use to bill insurance indicates that cervicalgia can be either chronic or acute. The ICD-10 doesn't mention a direct cause with the exception of a disc disorder in the cervical spine. When discs are at the root of your cervicalgia, the IDC-10 code is M50. When the cause is not stated the code is M54.2.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cervicalgia is an alternative name for neck pain, neck stiffness and/or whiplash.

Eric P. Alexander, in his article entitled, "History, physical examination, and differential diagnosis of neck pain," which was published in the August 2011 issue of the journal Physical Medicine Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, says while it's generally difficult to pinpoint the structural cause of cervicalgia, doing so may help guide your treatment choices.

Alexander also says the history your doctor takes from you can help her rule out yellow and red flags as causes. Then, the physical exam will likely help her confirm a diagnosis, allowing her to let you know what underlies your neck pain.

Related:  Back Pain Red Flags

Cervicalgia and Your Psychological State


Szasz, in a study on psychological disorders and cervicalgia (many due to degeneration of the cervical spine) which was entitled, "The Correlation between Chronic Cervicalgia and Anxiety and Depression Disorders," (and published in Academica Science Journal, Psychological Series in 2012), defines cervicalgia as a clinical syndrome that is usually associated with limited mobility of the neck and/or radiating pain in one or both arms that is accompanied by pins and needles in your fingers.

In addition, mood changes, specifically anxiety and depression, commonly accompany cervicalgia, adding that by the time we are 65, nearly everyone (95 percent of people) will have had at least one episode.

Making strides towards symptom relief is easiest when your cervicalgia is not also accompanied by anxiety or depression, say Szasz and fellow researchers.  They also say that when neck pain is present early on in cervical spondylosis, you may have a higher risk for anxiety or depression.

Cervicalgia - Related Info

Lumbago is a similar term to cervicalgia that refers to pain in the low back.

Check out these other articles on neck pain and cervicalgia.


Alexander, E.History, physical examination, and differential diagnosis of neck pain. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2011 Aug

ICD 10 Data. Cervicalgia. 2015/16 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis CodeM54.2. ICD10Data.com.

Neck pain. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine website. Last update date: March 2015.

Szasz, S., Papp, E., Georgescu, L. The Correlation between Chronic Cervicalgia and Anxiety and Depression Disorders. Academica Science Journal. Psychologica Series. No. 1. 2012.

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