Neck pain can be deceiving. A little bit of pain can indicate a serious problem, such as an autoimmune disease or cancer, while a lot of pain can indicate a common but less serious problem, like a slipped disc. Rest assured, however, that most neck pain is almost always not as bad as it seems and is usually treatable and/or curable.
Being able to distinguish between pain that may need immediate attention and pain that does not require immediate attention can help save you a lot of time, work, and even money. Here’s what you should know about neck pain to properly decide if you should seek treatment from a Casselberry chiropractor or other type of neck specialist.
Symptoms Indicating Less Serious Neck Pain
It’s important to know when your worries do not indicate a serious problem that requires immediate attention. If your neck pain meets all of the below factors, you may not need to seek immediate medical attention:
- Your neck pain is new and has been bothering you for less than six weeks
- Your neck pain comes and goes, or feels as though it is improving but not worsening
- There are no other symptoms associated with your neck pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association, necks can easily sustain injuries. Even something as simple as poor posture on a regular basis can disrupt your spinal balance enough to cause pain in different areas around your neck. This pain may come and go and does not require immediate attention. That being said, these forms of neck pain can improve drastically with the help of a chiropractor.
When to Worry About Neck Pain
If your neck pain exceeds the above symptoms or you experience other symptoms with the pain, that is a sign that the pain may require immediate attention. Specifically, you should seek treatment from a medical professional if you have the following symptoms, especially if they are paired with any red flags:
- Your neck pain has continued for six or more weeks
- Your neck pain has not improved or has gotten worse
Red flags refer to things like:
- Tapping sensation
- Fever and/or nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe headaches
- Severe stiffness
- Numbness or tingling
- Weakness in any part of your body
These red flags are particularly worrisome for anyone under the age of 20 or over the age of 55. It’s important to note that even when a red flag is present, it does not indicate that the issue is dire. It only indicates the time is now to tell a chiropractor or other medical professional about your neck pain and begin an appropriate form of treatment.
When Your Neck Pain Requires Immediate Attention, Regardless of the Symptoms
In addition to minor and serious forms of standard neck pain, there are certain circumstances that call for immediate attention, whether you have the above symptoms or not. This includes:
- An auto accident
- Horseback riding
- Any other activity where your body can experience blows or sudden backward and forward head jerks
These kinds of activities can result in whiplash, which almost always requires immediate attention even if the pain is minimal because whiplash can develop and worsen over time. So, if you are in an auto accident and your head is jerked violently, then you want to seek attention for it as soon as you can.
Delaying Neck Pain Treatment
If you decide to put off your treatment, you are running the risk of making your symptoms even worse. For people who suffer from whiplash, immediate treatment and care after an accident will result in a better outcome for your injury. Delayed care, other the other hand, can result in chronic neck pain that can move down into the shoulders and, over time, result in:
- Limited function
- Limited mobility
- Chronic headaches
- Stiffness in your neck
- Stiffness in your shoulders
- Stiffness in your back
Neck Pain After Car Accident
According to WebMD, if you experience neck pain after an auto accident but do not seek immediate assistance because you did not feel any initial pain, you should see a chiropractor or other medical professional immediately if any of the following symptoms materialize:
- Neck pain
- Decreased range of motion in your neck
- Tightness in your neck
- Pain when moving your head side to side or front to back
- Tenderness in your neck
- Headaches that start at the base of your skull and shoot up towards your forehead
If you have neck pain after a car accident or if your neck pain meets the above criteria for immediate care, then it is in your best interest to contact a chiropractor immediately. A chiropractor can help you understand the root cause of your pain and guide you through the process of of getting the right medical and chiropractic attention you need. If a neck specialist is required, a chiropractor may also be able to identify a local Casselberry specialist for you. Though some forms of neck pain may go away on their own, do not ignore the serious signs and circumstances that mandate help immediately. Get the help you need before the pain sets in for life.