When should neck pain be a concern?

Seek medical attention if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands, or if you have shooting pain in your shoulder or arm. Unfortunately, many people live with the stubborn idea that admitting back and neck pain is a sign of weakness. 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. After that, as long as you don't have the “warning signs” above, it's important to keep moving your neck to prevent it from hardening (so neck braces or braces are not recommended unless your doctor tells you to).

The bottom line is that you never really know if that neck pain is severe or not, so don't be afraid to talk about your health. Call your doctor right away if your neck pain worsens and you have other symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, dizziness, or loss of control of your bowels or bladder. If you have neck pain that doesn't go away even with rest, it could be a hernia or a bulging disc. When you first experience neck pain, it can be very painful to move and you'll need to rest in a neutral position for a couple of days.

See your doctor right away if your neck hurts after a fall or accident, or if the pain is severe, doesn't respond to treatment, worsens over time, or if it includes numbness, weakness or tingling, and pain in your arms and legs. 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. A doctor will take your medical history, talk to you about neck pain, and may perform a physical exam. Neck pain is a common condition that affects 40 to 70% of people significantly at some point in their lives.

Austin Carrahan
Austin Carrahan

Avid coffee lover. Award-winning food fanatic. Passionate tv ninja. Amateur web junkie. Subtly charming pop culture maven.

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