After spending hours of your day with your head bent down looking at your laptop, a sore neck may not come as much of a surprise. This is a common cause of neck pain, and with a little stretching and good posture, your neck pain may improve within a few days.
But you can’t fix all neck pain with at-home care.
At Interventional Pain Associates in Austin, Texas, we specialize in treating all types of neck pain. Because most causes of neck pain aren’t serious, you may not know when it’s time to make an appointment with the doctor.
In this month’s blog post, our pain management specialist, Dr. Sarosh Saleemi, wants to share some of the signs your neck pain needs medical care.
1. Occurs after an accident
Car accidents and sports injuries may cause whiplash, a neck injury that occurs when the head moves forcefully back and forth, overstretching or tearing the ligaments, tendons, or muscles in the neck.
Whiplash may cause neck pain and stiffness, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Even minor fender benders can cause an injury that affects the structure of the neck. Not getting help for whiplash may delay healing or lead to a chronic pain condition.
If you have neck pain after an accident or assault, you need medical care.
2. Pain is getting worse
If your pain is getting worse with at-home care, it’s time to seek medical attention. You may not realize you have a neck injury after an accident because your adrenaline is masking your pain. Symptoms from a whiplash injury may take a few days to appear, and include pain and stiffness.
Worsening pain is also common with spinal stenosis, a chronic and progressive condition that causes narrowing in the spinal canal.
Symptoms that get worse signal that something is wrong, and a medical assessment is needed to find out what’s going on.
3. Discomfort is spreading
Neck pain that radiates into the head, upper back, or shoulders also needs a professional evaluation. Radiating pain may mean you have a degenerative condition, such as arthritis, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease (DDD), that’s affecting the structure of the neck.
4. Your pain is long lasting
If you have neck pain that lasts three months or longer, your condition is chronic and not something you should ignore. A number of conditions may cause chronic neck pain like spinal stenosis, DDD, a herniated disc, or facet joint arthritis.
5. Tingling or numbness
Do you have tingling or numbness in your neck, arm, or fingers? These symptoms are a sign of nerve compression or irritation from a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Without proper care, the underlying cause of the tingling and numbness may cause permanent nerve damage.
In most cases, neck pain resolves on its own. But there are times when medical care is essential and may prevent long-term problems.
If you have neck pain that’s making it hard for you to sleep, read, and enjoy life, it’s time to schedule an appointment. Call our office or click the “book online” button to make an appointment with our pain specialist.