However, if the pain continues for more than three or four days, or if it's progressing even after you've stopped being active, it's probably time to call your doctor, she adds. Neck pain caused by muscle tension or strain usually goes away on its own within a few days and only needs conservative treatment at most. Neck pain that lasts longer than several weeks will generally continue to respond to exercise, stretching, physical therapy, massage, and watchful waiting, but steroid injections or even surgery are occasionally indicated. Most of the time, back or neck pain goes away on its own.
However, some or all of your symptoms may indicate a need for medical attention. And while the possibility is rare, you may even need to go to the emergency room. Body aches are common with the flu. Often, those pains include neck pain.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and shorten the duration of illness. People with neck pain and mild to moderate flu symptoms should visit their doctor. If neck pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, headaches, and sensitivity to bright lights, you should see a doctor immediately. These are potential signs of meningitis, but only a doctor can make an official diagnosis.
This triad of symptoms could indicate bacterial meningitis, an infection of the spinal cord and brain covering that requires immediate treatment with antibiotics. Pain that travels down one arm, especially if the arm or hand is weak, numb, or tingling. This could indicate that a herniated cervical disc is pressing on a nerve. Loss of bowel or bladder control.
This could indicate pressure on the spinal cord, which requires immediate attention. If you can suddenly tilt your head forward or backward much more than usual, it could indicate a ligament fracture or rupture. This usually happens only after a major impact or injury, and the doctor is more likely to detect it on an x-ray than by your own perception. Neck pain can be dull or sharp, sudden or gradual, brief or chronic, and causes can vary widely, from benign to emergency conditions.
If neck pain prevents you from getting the most out of life, it's time to visit a doctor. While many cases of neck pain or stiffness are not a cause for concern, some underlying causes of pain can be very serious. Whether you need a doctor or if you can treat your pain at home depends on what happened just before the pain started and what other symptoms you may be having. If lower back or neck pain persists for more than a few days or weeks, doctor's evaluation and treatment may be needed.
In some cases, pain or stiffness in the neck may also be due to a serious or life-threatening medical condition, such as heart attack, meningitis, or Lyme disease. In fact, a CDC survey found that 13.9% of men and 17.4% of women surveyed reported having neck pain in the past three months alone. Rotating a heating pad and ice pack throughout the day may be the right approach to eliminating neck pain. See a doctor right away if neck pain occurs after a traumatic accident or fall, such as a car accident, diving accident, or head injury.
Neck pain or stiffness is a very common symptom that most people experience at some point in their lives. If neck pain is accompanied by any of the emergency symptoms listed above, seek emergency room care immediately. If you're dealing with neck pain and aren't sure if you need to see a doctor, there are more serious symptoms to watch out for. Neck pain is difficult enough to manage on its own, but it is even worse when it moves to the shoulders and causes numbness or muscle weakness.
If you were recently injured from a fall, a blow, or an accident, the back or neck pain that follows should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible. .