When to See a Doctor for Neck Pain – Spine Center Atlanta

When to See a Doctor for Neck Pain

Woman with neck pain talking to her doctor

Temporary aches and pains are surprisingly common, even in the fittest of individuals. From sleeping in an uncomfortable posture to walking with your head down for too often, there are many situations that can cause mild and moderate neck pain that will simply go away with a good night’s sleep or a few very simple behavioral changes.

But not all neck pain is minor, and not all neck pain can be cured with a few small changes to the way you sit or stand. There may be a time when your neck pain is a signal that it’s time to see a doctor, and that you may need some medical treatment or intervention to help rid yourself of that pain.

When Neck Pain is an Emergency

Some forms of neck pain need more than a doctor, and may be a sign of a medical emergency. If you have any of the following symptoms in addition to neck pain, you may need to call 9-1-1:

  • Chest Pains
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Inability to Move Part of Your Body
  • Loss of Control of Bowels/Bladder

These symptoms may be a sign of something more serious, such as a heart attack or spinal injury. If you have difficulty walking, numbness or tingling in the arms or extremities, or pain that gets progressively worse to the point of feeling “severe,” you may want to head to the hospital for care.

When Neck Pain is a Sign of Something More

Neck pain may also be sign of other medical conditions, and while they may not warrant am ambulance ride to the hospital, they may be a sign that you could benefit from additional medical care.

The most common sign is simply chronic neck pain – neck pain that won’t go away on its own. All chronic neck pain deserves a visit to a doctor or spinal specialist, because it could be a sign of:

  • Herniated Discs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Whiplash (After an Accident)
  • Spinal Stenosis

Neck pain due to something less serious is generally fairly mild to moderate, feels more like a muscle ache, and goes away in a few days or after a Tylenol. Neck pain due to one of the above conditions is more constant, tends to get worse over time, and requires constant pain medications or is followed by trouble moving your neck.

Seeking Out Help

It is always better to be safe. If something feels “off” with your neck pain, it helps to get medical attention, especially if it is accompanied by trouble moving, more severe pain, or any other worrisome symptoms. If the pain is mild, isn’t disrupting your life, and tends to come and go, try fixing your posture, stretching, drinking more water (to nourish your muscles) and see if that helps. Then see a doctor if it doesn’t go away.

If you’re concerned about your neck pain or simply interested in the wide range of services that Spine Center Atlanta has to offer, contact us today at  404-341-4731.

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