When to seek medical attention for neck pain

BEFORE I REVEAL how to relieve your neck pain, I must first inform you when it is imperative to seek medical attention. It would be irresponsible of me to say you could self-treat when, in fact, your neck pain could be a symptom of an underlying disease that needs medical treatment, if not immediate care. If you have a new type of neck pain; if the frequency is increasing; or if it is more intense than usual, resulting in numbness in your arm, cognitive changes, fever or any other concerning symptoms, seek immediate medical attention! It could be a sign of a more serious condition.   Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms:   

 1.     Neck pain with radiation down your left arm with chest pain. This can be a sign of a heart attack. 

 2.     Neck stiffness with a fever. This could be due to infection (for example, meningitis). I had a friend who woke up with a stiff neck on a Saturday, and it progressively worsened over a few days. He saw a medical doctor on a Thursday. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and pain relievers and sent him home. The next day, a friend took him to the E.R. because he appeared to be having a stroke (he was losing muscle control in his arms and legs). The E.R. doctors gave him a blood thinner. He immediately turned for the worse, and his heart stopped. Thankfully, they were able to revive him. Soon after, the results of the blood work and scans came in. The doctors quickly realized that he had a severe infection in vertebrae in his neck. They had to remove pieces of bone from his neck to release the pressure on his spinal cord and give him mega doses of antibiotics intravenously. He was lucky to survive, let alone regain control of his arms and legs (despite the injury to his spinal cord). Any further delay of medical intervention would have resulted in death. 

 3.     Neck pain that persists more than four to six weeks (preferably you seek a healthcare provider’s advice within days if not hours, depending on the circumstances). 

 4.     Neck pain after injury, trauma, or an accident. If this occurs, seek immediate medical attention. You may need an X-ray, CT, or MRI to rule out bone fractures or a disc herniation. It does not take a high-velocity impact to result in internal bleeding or brain injury. If you have been in a motor vehicle collision, check out my book Whiplash to Wellness. 

 5.     Severe pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness down the arm. These symptoms can be a sign of a disc herniation in your neck. Disc herniations can be treated with chiropractic manipulation and mechanical traction, but if the herniation is grossly impinging the nerve, you may need a more immediate release of pressure on the nerve, which requires surgery. Always get more than one opinion from at least two types of health practitioners. If you ask a surgeon how to treat a disc herniation, you are more likely to hear that you need surgery. If you ask a chiropractor, you are more likely to hear you don’t need surgery. 

Every year, I have dozens of patients who have been told they needed surgery, and after seeing me, they were able to avoid surgery. If you can get well without surgery, you are better off in the long run; once you have one surgery on the neck, you usually need more surgeries over time. Surgeries to the neck change the functionality of the cervical spine, leading to increased stressors to the bones above and below the surgical site. 

As a result, they degenerate faster, leading to another surgery. However, sometimes a condition is severe enough that the disc herniation risks the health of the nerves (which don’t heal well), so surgery is imperative.   If you have any concerns about your neck pain, ask a professional’s advice. You may waste a bit of time and money if no serious issues are found, but the cost of ignoring your symptoms may be far worse because it could lead to an early death.   

If you suffer from neck pain and know you don’t have an underlying health condition, seek the advice of a chiropractor. In my biased opinion, chiropractors are the best health practitioners to treat neck pain because they have the best tools. Plus, if they tell you need surgery, it is more likely you do need surgery because most chiropractors have the tools, training and the wherewithal to help people get well without surgery. They look at more than just your neck because your pain may be a symptom of other problems.  To learn about other silent conditions can be the cause of your neck pain, CLICK HERE. You can find out more about chiropractors and what they do at the end of most of my books...

Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Your Downtown Neck Pain Specialists
565 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404

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