When To Call a Doctor
Call 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 (such as a car accident, fall, or direct blow to the spine). 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.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Recommended Related to Back Pain
What's Making Your Back Hurt?
When you've got back pain, one of the best questions you can ask is, "Why is it happening?" That can be the first step to helping the problem.
Common causes for back pain include:
Muscle and ligament injuries. These are the most common causes of back pain. Shoveling snow or helping a friend move her couch can sometimes overstretch the muscles or ligaments. You can wind up with strains or sprains. Most of these injuries heal in a few days to weeks.
Read the What's Making Your Back Hurt? article > >
You have new or worsening numbness in your arms, buttocks or legs.
You have new or worsening weakness in your arms or legs. (This could make it hard to stand up.)
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
For more information, see the topic
Neck Problems and Injuries. Watchful waiting
Most neck pain doesn't require a visit to a doctor.
If the pain doesn't get better after 1 or 2 days and you can't do your normal daily activities, call your doctor.
If you still have mild to moderate pain after at least 2 weeks of home treatment, talk with your doctor. He or she may want to check for problems that may be causing your neck pain.
Who to see
Health care professionals who often diagnose the cause of neck pain include:
If your neck pain is severe or long-lasting, health professionals who can treat you include:
You can also get care from:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic
Making the Most of Your Appointment.