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When should you see a doctor about a herniated disk or degenerative disk disease?

ANSWER

Call your doctor if your neck pain is intense or lasts for more than a couple of weeks.

If the pain gets worse, or you have numbness or weakness that goes into your shoulders, arm, or hand, see a doctor immediately. The doctor will ask you about your medical history to find out how long you've had the pain and what activities help or worsen the pain.

You may need tests such as an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to see what the problem is and exactly where it’s located.

SOURCES:

JAMA: “Aminotransferase elevations in healthy adults receiving 4 grams of acetaminophen daily: a randomized controlled trial.”

FDA: "Safety concerns associated with over-the-counter drug products containing analgesic/antipyretic active ingredients for internal use."

K. Daniel Riew, MD, Mildred B. Simon Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, professor of neurologic surgery, and director of the Orthopaedic Spine Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Surgical management of cervical radiculopathy,” “Cervical Radiculopathy.”

Spine: “Complications and mortality associated with cervical spine surgery for degenerative disease in the United States.”

News release, FDA.

Cedars-Sinai: “Herniated or Ruptured Disk.”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler on December 24, 2018

SOURCES:

JAMA: “Aminotransferase elevations in healthy adults receiving 4 grams of acetaminophen daily: a randomized controlled trial.”

FDA: "Safety concerns associated with over-the-counter drug products containing analgesic/antipyretic active ingredients for internal use."

K. Daniel Riew, MD, Mildred B. Simon Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, professor of neurologic surgery, and director of the Orthopaedic Spine Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Surgical management of cervical radiculopathy,” “Cervical Radiculopathy.”

Spine: “Complications and mortality associated with cervical spine surgery for degenerative disease in the United States.”

News release, FDA.

Cedars-Sinai: “Herniated or Ruptured Disk.”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler on December 24, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

Would physical therapy help with a herniated disk or degenerative disk disease?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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