More serious are systemic causes of neck pain that derive from other diseases. For instance, in polymyalgia rheumatica acute neck pain can be one of the first symptoms, but as is pointed out on the page where this is discussed in more detail this can be associated with a potentially dangerous temporal arteritis, which can lead to blindness in an eye, if not treated aggressively.
On the other hand with rheumatoid arthritis the upper end of the cervical spine is often affected with subluxations of the joints between the first and second vertebral bodies(atlantoaxial subluxation).
There is a danger of spinal cord stenosis or compression. With ankylosing spondylitis the spine tends to get stiff and after years of this disease, apart from the lumbar spine, the cervical spine is affected as well. Look at this link for more details and the associated eye problems as well. The integrity of the bone structure of the spine can be undermined by a malignancy. Look under multiple myeloma for more details on this bone tumor (Ref.3, p. 966).
You can find links to more information regarding these conditions under “Related Page” below.
1. ABC of rheumatology, second edition, edited by Michael L. Snaith , M.D., BMJ Books, 1999. Chapter 2.
2. D Irnich et al. BMJ 2001 Jun 30;322(7302):1574.
3. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 140.
4. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.(©2000)W.B.Saunders
5. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.
6. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier
7. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness– Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008