Neck tongue syndrome (NTS) is rare and comprises altered sensation in one side of the tongue aggravated by neck movement, with ipsilateral neck pain 1.
NTS is seen in a wide range of ages but is more commonly reported in older children and young adults 1-3.
Patients present with episodic, often severe upper cervical and occipital pain with associated symptoms in the ipsilateral tongue, including numbness, pseudoathetosis, dysarthria, and lingual paralysis. Neck movement aggravates the condition 1-3.
NTS is believed to be due to damage to lingual afferent fibres travelling in the hypoglossal nerve to the C2 spinal roots, possibly due to subluxation of the lateral C1/2 joints 1-3. It is divided into 3:
- complicated NTS: underlying disease process (inflammatory or degenerative) can be identified
- uncomplicated NTS: idiopathic or trauma-related
- 1. Orrell RW, Marsden CD. The neck-tongue syndrome. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatr. 1994;57 (3): 348-52. Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 2. Bogduk N. An anatomical basis for the neck-tongue syndrome. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatr. 1981;44 (3): 202-8. Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 3. Wig S, Romanowski C, Akil M. An unusual cause of the neck-tongue syndrome. J. Rheumatol. 2009;36 (4): 857-8. doi:10.3899/jrheum.080993 - Pubmed citation