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Symptoms – Causes – Treatment of Neck-Tongue Syndrome
Neck-tongue syndrome is a rare disorder. There is a sudden neck and occipital pain for about a minute. It is immediately followed by numbness in the tongue on the same side for a few minutes. Possible associated symptoms are difficulty swallowing, speaking, or weakness in the tongue.
The most common trigger is a sudden neck rotation and it is almost always to the side of numbness.
Neck-tongue syndrome tends to occur in younger population. There is an association with athletic activities in 10% to 15% of cases.
There are 2 types of neck-tongue syndrome: complicated, which is caused by some underlying disease in the upper cervical spine area; and uncomplicated, which is either traumatic or idiopathic.
Neck-tongue syndrome is believed to be a result of mechanical irritation of the upper cervical nerve roots. The likely mechanism is upper cervical compression secondary to spasm of the upper cervical muscles.
Physical therapy is the most common treatment approach in neck-tongue syndrome. The rational is that relaxation of the neck muscles will alleviate the symptoms. Various medications and invasive procedures have been tried as well with various level of benefit.