Neck Pain in Women Linked to Parkinson's Disease

Is ongoing neck pain in women a possible sign of early Parkinson's disease? Neck pain can accompany Parkinson's disease, a condition characterized by tremors, stiffness, and bradykinesia (slow movements)—but it is not a symptom of early-stage Parkinson's disease.

Woman talking to her doctor holding the back of her neck in pain
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There are many possible causes of neck pain, regardless of whether you're a woman or a man. Neck pain is common, especially in older adults, and it can result from muscle strain, injury, arthritis, a more serious cause (such as cancer spreading to the cervical spine), and several different diseases.

If you have persistent neck pain, you should see your doctor, who can evaluate you to pinpoint the cause of the pain and determine how it should be treated. If it's caused by your Parkinson's disease, then treating your movement disorder may help reduce your neck pain.

Could Neck Pain Mean Parkinson's?

Sometimes the effects of Parkinson's disease can cause pain. Difficulty moving, tremors, and stiffness can contribute to muscle cramps, which can be painful. Sometimes, physically struggling to overcome the motor limitations of this movement disorder can contribute to pain as well.

Cramps and pain associated with Parkinson's disease are most common in the muscles in your back, neck, calf, and feet.

Some people begin to have neck pain or another type of pain early in the course of the disease, and about 30 percent to 50 percent of Parkinson's patients experience pain at some point over the course of their illness.

While Parkinson's disease-associated pain can begin in the early stages of the disease, it usually won't precede symptoms of Parkinson's disease. A rare exception would be if you have tremors, bradykinesia, and stiffness and are fighting against these movements, but are not noticing them.

If you already have arthritis in your neck, it's possible that having Parkinson's disease can add to your neck discomfort.

Talking to Your Healthcare Provider

How do you know if your neck pain is potentially related to your Parkinson's disease?

You can't know for sure, but you and your healthcare provider can explore the issue. If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it is important that you and your doctor consider other causes of your neck pain. That's because the treatment for Parkinson's disease will not help the pain if it's caused by arthritis, muscle strain, or a more serious medical issue.

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2 Sources
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  1. Misailidou V, Malliou P, Beneka A, Karagiannidis A, Godolias G. Assessment of patients with neck pain: a review of definitions, selection criteria, and measurement toolsJ Chiropr Med. 2010;9(2):49–59. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2010.03.002

  2. Fil A, Cano-De-La-Cuerda R, Muñoz-Hellín E, Vela L, Ramiro-González M, Fernández-De-Las-Peñas C. Pain in Parkinson disease: A review of the literatureParkinsonism & Related Disorders. 2013;19(3):285-294. doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2012.11.009

Additional Reading
  • Rezak M. Is Pain a Symptom of Parkinson's Disease? American Parkinson Disease Association website.