When is it Time to See a Doctor for Neck Pain?
Neck pain is a common condition that, in some cases, can persist over time in spite of attempts to alleviate it with self-care.
In this blog, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Schiebert of New Jersey Spine Surgeons explains when it’s time to see a doctor for neck pain.
What is neck pain?
This type of pain can affect any of the tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, joints, or other parts of the neck.
It’s often classified as being acute or chronic. Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and can last for up to a few weeks. It can result from a sudden incident such as an injury or accident. Chronic pain, on the other hand, develops more slowly and typically lasts longer.
What is it caused by?
It can result from disorders, diseases, infections, overuse, or injury.
Pain can occur because of some of the following:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated, slipped or bulging disc
- Bone spur
- Neck strain
- Pinched nerve
- Cervical spinal stenosis
- Cervical foraminal stenosis
- Infections, including throat infections or meningitis
- Poor posture
- Uncomfortable positioning of the neck while you’re sleeping
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
Pain can range from mild to severe and can include the following:
- Stiffness – can cause moving the neck to become difficult
- Sharp pain – can be felt in one specific spot and feel like stabbing or stinging pain
- Soreness – can often be in one area and is usually an achy type of pain
- Radiating pain – can radiate from a nerve in your neck into your shoulders and arms, causing a burning sensation
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness – can radiate into your shoulder, arm, or fingers and cause difficulty when picking up or lifting objects
- Headaches – caused by neck muscle or nerve pain
When is it time to see a doctor for neck pain?
If you have this type of pain, self-care such as applying an ice pack or taking a hot shower or bath may help. Massaging or gently stretching your neck muscles can also provide relief in some cases.
It’s time to see a doctor, however, if any of the following apply:
- Your pain is persisting or getting worse in spite of self-care
- It radiates down your arms or legs
- You’re experiencing a headache, numbness, or tingling
In some cases, you may need immediate medical attention. These include:
- Neck pain that’s caused by a traumatic event such as a car wreck or fall
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Trouble walking
- High fever
If you’re experiencing neck pain, make an appointment today with Dr. Schiebert at New Jersey Spine Surgeons. He’ll determine the cause of your pain and recommend the most effective, least invasive treatment that will help bring you relief.