Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

I went to the doctor for a problem with neck pain. The insurance won't pay because the diagnosis is "nonspecific neck pain." They insist they need a real diagnosis. What is "nonspecific neck pain"? I was pretty specific about the symptoms and when they occur.

Answer:

You've run across a problem of words. Most likely all you need to do is call the doctor's office and ask the billing staff to rebill it under a different code. Nonspecific neck pain means there's no underlying disease such as cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and so on.

The cause is more likely to be linked to the way the muscles contract or the joints line up. Perhaps a past injury resulted in a tear in the ligaments. The neck may lack stability. The muscles try to compensate. They get overworked and tired and start hurting.

We call this a biomechanical problem. That's just one example of how changes in the normal biomechanics can lead to pain and problems. Calling it "nonspecific" just says the cause is unknown, but not from a systemic illness.

Haejung Lee, MHSc, et al. Cervical Range of Motion Associations with Subclinical Neck Pain. In Spine. January 1, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 1. Pp. 33-40.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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