Signs That It Is Time To Go To The Doctor For Neck Pain
Sometimes, neck pain responds to self-care that includes heat, ice, and rest. Other times, though, treatment is needed. If you are dealing with neck pain and unsure if you need to visit a doctor, then there are more severe symptoms keep in mind. Anyone dealing with the following symptoms should contact their primary care practitioner or walk into an Urgent Care facility:
- Muscle spasms in the neck
- Neck pain that gets worse
- Neck pain that continues to linger
- If you injure your neck
- Pain moves from the neck to the shoulders, causing numbness or weakness
- Flu-like symptoms when your back aches
How Neck Pain Is Treated
You doctor will perform a physical exam and take your complete medical history. Be prepared to tell your doctor about the specifics of your symptoms. You should also let them know about all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements youve been taking.
Even if it doesnt seem related, you should also let your doctor know about any recent injuries or accidents youve had.
Treatment for neck pain depends on the diagnosis. In addition to a thorough history and physical exam by your doctor, you may also need one or more of the following imaging studies and tests to help your doctor determine the cause of your neck pain:
- blood tests
Should You See A Neurologist For Back Pain And Neck Pain
People manage chronic back and neck pain in different ways. Some try stretching or alternating heat and cold at the source of the discomfort. Others turn to over-the-counter pain medicine and a stoic demeanor. Acute pain often goes away without medical treatment, but dont ignore chronic and persistent pain that lasts for weeks, months, or years. Weakness, numbness, tingling or pain radiating into an arm or leg are important symptoms that need evaluation by a physician. Talk to your doctor to determine the cause of the problem. Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, to help determine the cause of your back pain.
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Common Neck Pain Causes
The tricky thing about neck pain is that it can have a number of causes. Most of the time its temporary and could go away with something as simple as a good nights sleep or a dose of over-the-counter pain medication. Common causes include:
- Tension headaches:;Tension headaches are an incredibly common brand of headache and they are often associated with pain and tenderness in the neck.
- Sleep position:;Sleeping in a position where your head lacks support and your neck is strained can often cause neck pain. To avoid neck pain from sleep, try sleeping on your back. You might also need a new mattress or pillow for additional support.
- Looking up and down:;People tend to hold their cellphones too low and situate their televisions too high. This can lead to looking up or down for extended periods of time, which can cause neck pain.
- Using the phone:;While pinching your phone between your ear and your might be a convenient way to hold a conversation while keeping your hands free, this practice can put strain on your neck.
- Dehydration:;The discs in your spine that separate your vertebrae need hydration. If your body is dehydrated, these spongy discs become less spongy, which can lead to neck pain.
- Carrying heavy objects:;Carrying too much weight in one hand, such as in a briefcase or purse, can put undue strain on your shoulders, back and neck.
- Posture:;Sitting in a slouched position with your head in front of your shoulders can put a greater strain on your neck.
What Is The Cervical Spine
The cervical spine is the neck region of your spinal column. It’s made up of seven;small, highly mobile bones, and their associated ligaments, muscles, and shock-absorbing discs.
Anything that aggravates or comes into contact with your spinal nerve roots can lead to radiculopathy, and that includes several common conditions in which growths or abnormalities cause something to invade the space of the nerve root.
- Herniated disc: The shock-absorbing discs between vertebrae can become damaged and may develop a bulge and/or leak fluid.
- Synovial cyst: These lumps are caused by a buildup of joint fluid that forms a sac.
- Bone spur: An extra bit of bone forms in response to damage or chronic inflammation.
- Cervical spondylosis : This condition involves the formation of bone spurs in the neck.
- Spinal stenosis: An advanced stage of spinal arthritis, stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spine become narrowed, usually due to excess bone growth.
- Degenerative disc disease : Discs between vertebrae erode and fray over time, which may cause a herniated disc. In cases of severe degeneration, bone-on-bone contact can cause bone spurs in the joint.
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Pain Gets Worse Or Does Not Go Away:
Ice and heat can relieve neck pain in many cases. However, sometimes, the symptoms persist or get worse, even with the appropriate self-care. When the pain gets worse or does not go away within three weeks, it could be due to an underlying medical issue. Also, the patient might be aggravating the muscles and tendons without realizing it. A doctor can determine the source of the pain and help manage the symptoms.
Can Neck Pain Be Prevented
The best way to prevent neck pain is to keep your spine flexible and your muscles strong. You can do this with regular exercise 30 minutes on most days. Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day to stretch.
Its important to develop good posture especially when youre sitting, at work or driving. Try not to slouch or to poke your chin out. A supportive pillow is also important to prevent neck pain.
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When Should I See My Doctor
You should see a doctor if:
- the pain is getting worse
- the pain doesnt ease up in a week or so
- you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
- you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel
- you have a fever as well as neck pain
For Neck Pain Caused By Sleep Habits
- Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight. Special neck support pillows called cervical pillows or rolls may relieve neck stress. You can also fold a towel lengthwise into a pad that is 10 cm wide, wrap it around your neck, and pin it in position for good support.
- Don’t sleep on your stomach with your neck twisted or bent.
- If you read in bed, prop up the book so you aren’t using your arms to hold it up and bending your neck forward. Consider using a wedge-shaped pillow to support your arms and keep your neck in a neutral position.
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Neck And Shoulder Pain Medications
There are also medication options for treating neck and shoulder pain based on the cause of your pain. While some medications can be helpful for acute and mild cases of pain, others may help with moderate to severe pain after trying less invasive treatments and seeing no benefits.
A common first treatment is non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen . You can purchase this over the counter and use it for short-term relief.
Antidepressants, such as serotonin-and-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors , can also help with neck pain.
Your doctor might also prescribe muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants for temporary relief while you recover or skin patches containing capsaicin.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
911 or other emergency services immediately if:
- Neck pain occurs with chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath and nausea.
- A person has signs of damage to the spine after an injury . Signs may include:
- Being unable to move part of the body.
- Severe back or neck pain.
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs.
- You have new or worsening numbness in your arms, buttocks or legs.
- You have new or worsening weakness in your arms or legs.
- You lose control of your bladder or bowels.
- You have long-term neck pain that suddenly gets much worse, and you did not cause it by being more active.
- You have a history of cancer or HIV infection, and you have new or increased neck pain.
- Pain wakes you from sleep.
For more information, see the topic Neck Problems and Injuries.
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Gentle Stretching At Home
Your doctor may prescribe light stretching exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home to help with neck and shoulder pain. Always ask your doctor to demonstrate them for you so you follow proper technique.
Our lists of the 35 best neck pain exercises and more than 60 exercises for shoulder pain can get you started on guided movement to relieve neck and shoulder discomfort. However, always talk to your doctor before adding new stretches to your routine, as some could worsen your pain.
When To See The Doctor For Neck Pain And Dizziness
While most cases of dizziness are mild and quickly go away on their own, sometimes the problem requires medical attention. If dizziness persists and interferes with routine activities or quality of life, it should be examined by a doctor.
In addition, any type of pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that radiates down into the arm or hand should be evaluated by a doctor. If neck pain and/or dizziness are accompanied by severe headache, nausea, feeling faint, bowel/bladder dysfunction, and/or trouble with coordination or walking, medical attention is needed immediately.
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How Is It Treated
The type of treatment you need will depend on whether your neck pain is caused by activities, an injury, or another medical condition. Most neck pain caused by activities can be treated at home.
For neck pain that occurs suddenly:
- Use a heating pad on a low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Try a warm shower in place of one session with the heating pad. You can also buy single-use heat wraps that last up to 8 hours. Or you can try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. There is not strong evidence that either heat or ice will help. But you can try them to see if they help.
- Avoid more injury to your neck by changing activities and habits, such as how you sit or sleep.
- Try exercises or manual therapy to help you move your head and neck more easily. See a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopathic doctor for this type of care.
Ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen . Ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine can also help relieve pain.
To treat chronic neck pain, your doctor may prescribe medicine to relax your neck muscles. Or you may get medicines to relieve pain and help you sleep. You might also try massage or yoga to relieve neck stress.
Surgery is rarely done to treat neck pain. But it may be done if your pain is caused by a medical problem, such as pressure on the spinal nerve roots, a tumour, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
Ways To Relieve Pain From A Shoulder Problem
If these measures fail to bring relief, you may need an MRI of your shoulder. If that shows a torn rotator cuff, then shoulder surgery may be necessary, says Dr. Ricchetti. If the physical exam and imaging indicate arthritis or a nerve-related pain in your neck, he recommends referral to a spine specialist. Spine specialists will conduct a thorough neurological examination, and do imaging and other tests. They will also begin with conservative care.
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What Doctor To See For Shoulder & Elbow Pain
Shoulder and elbow pain are some of the most common aches and pains people experience. Since the shoulder and elbow joints are also some of the most frequently used in your body, pain and injuries in these joints can significantly impact your daily life. However, many people arent sure what doctor to see for these types of pain or even when to see a doctor.
Orthopedic doctors are specialists who treat shoulder and elbow pain. An orthopedic specialist can examine your shoulder or elbow and order imaging studies like X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds. He or she will identify what kind of pain you are experiencing, as well as what treatments will help.
Our orthopedic specialists at University of Utah Health can diagnose and treat your elbow and shoulder pain as well as your injuries. Our physicians offer surgical and non-surgical treatments to get you back to your normal activities.
Could That Shoulder Pain Really Stem From The Neck
When a nerve root in the cervical spine is irritated, the symptoms can radiate into the shoulder, arm, and hand. WatchCervical Radiculopathy Interactive Video
When shoulder pain is actually coming from the neck, it is wise to seek treatment as one or more nerves running from the neck into the shoulder could be at risk.
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Get Moving But Carefully
- Ease back into your normal daily activities as soon as you can. Movement helps your muscles stay strong.
- Avoid activities such as lifting and sports that make pain and stiffness worse.
- Do stretching and strengthening exercises to keep your neck flexible and strong and prevent stiffness.
- Avoid or change any activities that may be causing your neck pain, such as sitting for a long time at the computer or doing too much overhead work at a time.
- Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Don’t massage the injured area if it causes pain. Non-prescription creams or gels, such as Bengay, may provide pain relief.
When To See A Doctor
The 2 major things to keep in mind even after following proper care is to seek immediate doctor attention when the pain persists for 2 weeks and spreads to other regions.
To conclude, although neck pain with headache is common, the underlying reason should be carefully analyzed to further stop the complications out of it.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.
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Pain That Wont Go Away
Does it seem like youve been dealing with pain for ages? Youve rested your shoulder, applied ice, and tried over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
No matter what you do, the pain is still there. This is yet another sign that you need to visit an orthopedic specialist.
Pain is the bodys way of telling you that something is wrong. After you receive a diagnosis, you can begin treatment.
Causes Of Neck Pain With Headache
As cervicogenic headaches shoot from troubles in the neck, varied conditions may trigger this kind of pain. These conditions consist of degenerative health problems such as osteoarthritis, a whiplash injury, or a troubled disc in the neck. Some kinds of sports and a fall can even lead to injuries of the neck and lead to such headaches.
Neck pain with headaches may even happen based on the position of how you stand or sit. A driver, hairstylist, carpenter, or someone who is seated at a table may unintentionally push the chin frontward which also moves the head out in front of the body and this forward movement is termed as cervical protraction. Standing or sitting in this stature for long durations can pressurize or lead to stress on the neck and skulls base leading to a headache with neck pain.
Sleeping in a discomfited posture like with your head too far away to the back or front and off to one particular side can even trigger these kinds of headaches. It can also happen when one sleeps in a chair or sits in bed.
A pinched or compressed nerve near or in the neck is also one cause of this type of headache.
What Are The Symptoms
You may feel a knot, stiffness, or severe pain in your neck. The pain may spread to your shoulders, upper back, or arms. You may get a headache. You may not be able to move or turn your head and neck easily. If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, you might have pain that shoots down your arm. You may also have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm.
If your neck pain is long-lasting , you may have trouble coping with daily life. Common side effects of chronic pain include fatigue, depression, and anxiety.