Neck pain is usually evaluated with a medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, injuries or illnesses, any previous treatment, and habits and activities that may be causing your neck pain. During the physical exam, your doctor will check your neck's range of motion and check for pain caused by movement. He or she will look for areas of tenderness and any nerve-related changes, such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm or hand.
Blood tests may be done to check for an illness or infection.
Imaging, electromyogram, and nerve conduction tests
You may not need X-rays or other imaging tests. But tests may help if your neck pain doesn't get better, especially when:
- You have signs of nerve damage.
- Another serious problem is suspected.
- The cause of your condition cannot be clearly identified.
- Nonsurgical treatment has not improved your condition and you are considering surgery.
- Your doctor is asked to provide documentation of your condition, such as when a lawsuit or an insurance issue is involved.
Besides X-rays, tests may include:
- MRIMRI, which can help identify problems such as a herniated disc or a pinched nerve.
- CT scanCT scan, which looks at the bone and spinal canal .
- MyelogramMyelogram, which looks at the spinal canal and nerve roots.
- Electromyogram and nerve conduction studiesElectromyogram and nerve conduction studies or nerve blocks, which can help find a nerve problem that is causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the arm or hand.