When to Seek Treatment for Neck Pain New York, NY
Neck pain can make it difficult to enjoy life. You do your best to participate in the things you love, but when your neck is stiff or hurts, it can be hard to do anything. Many individuals suffering from neck pain may even choose not to get out of bed.
If your neck pain keeps you from getting the most out of life, it is time to visit a doctor. Once you receive an official diagnosis, you can finally begin a treatment plan and get one step closer to alleviating that debilitating pain. If you live in or around New York, you can be seen at Marina Gafanovich, MD today. Call us at (212) 548-3263 to learn more about our services.
Signs That It Is Time to Go to the Doctor for Neck Pain
Sometimes, neck pain responds to self-care that includes heat, ice, and rest. Other times, however, medical attention may be necessary. Knowing which warning signs to keep in mind can help. Anyone dealing with the following symptoms should contact their primary care physician:
- Body aches associated with flu-like symptoms
- Lingering neck pain
- Muscle spasms in the neck
- Pain after a neck injury
- Pain radiating from the neck to the shoulders, causing numbness or weakness
- Worsening neck pain
Body Aches Associated with Flu-Like Symptoms
It is not uncommon to experience general body aches when dealing with the flu. These aches often include neck pain. A doctor can prescribe medications to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and shorten the length of time the illness will last. Those with neck pain and mild to moderate flu symptoms should immediately visit the doctor, especially if such symptoms are accompanied by fever, vomiting, headaches, and sensitivity to bright lights. Altogether, these are often signs of meningitis.
Lingering Neck Pain
Ice and heat can relieve neck pain in many cases. However, sometimes, the symptoms persist or get worse, even with the appropriate self-care. When the pain worsens or does not go away within three weeks, it could be due to an underlying medical issue. The patient may also be aggravating the muscles and tendons without realizing it. A doctor can determine the source of the pain and help manage the symptoms.
Muscle Spasms in the Neck
Muscle spasms can make the neck feel stiff, reducing mobility. The neck muscles tighten, and hard knots might form. Many patients find relief by using ice, heat, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate the symptoms. If symptoms persist after a day or two or if the spasms prevent patients from sleeping, it is time to visit a doctor. They can determine the cause of the neck pain and provide the appropriate treatment.
Pain After Neck Injury
Patients who seriously injure their necks should seek emergency assistance. However, if the pain is mild to moderate, they can visit a primary care doctor. The pain could be due to a soft tissue injury, such as a muscle sprain or strain. After examining the patient, the doctor can provide a treatment plan to help the patient recover from the injury.
Pain Radiating from the Neck to the Shoulders
Neck pain is hard enough to handle on its own, but it is even worse when it moves to the shoulders and causes muscle numbness or weakness. This pain can be debilitating, and treatment is needed to begin the healing process. A primary care doctor can prescribe oral corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain while alleviating the numbness. The patient might also need to wear a soft cervical collar to keep the neck in place.
“It is not uncommon to experience general body aches when dealing with the flu.”
Frequent Causes and Effects of Neck Pain
Severe and prolonged pain in the neck could be a sign of a serious condition. Poor posture or osteoarthritis can cause discomfort and irritation, while accidents or injuries can also damage the neck muscles. These pains may limit the affected individual's range of motion or even make routine tasks difficult. These sensations may radiate into the person's arms, hands, legs, or feet. The source of this pain can be anything from a pinched nerve, herniated disk, arthritis, meningitis, or even cancer. Only a doctor can make an official diagnosis, making it imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
“Severe and prolonged pain in the neck could be a sign of a serious condition.”
Treatment Options for Neck Pain
Treatment options for neck pain can range from at-home remedies to medications and surgery. Often, mild pain can be alleviated with products found in your local pharmacy like Blue-Emu®, Tiger Balm®, or Bengay®. If you are experiencing chronic neck pain, it is best to talk to consult a doctor immediately. A doctor can prescribe the right treatment plan and discuss if surgery is needed.
Over-the-counter drugs are a common way to treat neck pain. The doctor may examine the patient and recommend a product such as ibuprofen, Tylenol®, or aspirin. These medications can relieve pain and hold off any inflammation. If these drugs are ineffective, the doctor may write a prescription. Once the patient has taken all the required doses, the doctor will follow up and evaluate their condition.
Heat and Ice
Rotating a heating pad and ice pack throughout the day may be the right approach to getting rid of neck pain. The doctor can recommend time intervals and how long the patient should follow this process. Heat and ice treatment can reduce swelling if the patient is diligent about following this strategy for at least a few days.
Stretching and Massaging
The physician may also suggest a few types of stretches and movements the patient can try. Slow but consistent side-to-side movement of the head and neck can stretch out the muscles and relieve tightness. Patients should not attempt any of these without the approval of the doctor. Ignoring the doctor's directions could lead to further injuries and complications. With the doctor's approval, the person may also see a licensed massage therapist to soothe the muscles.
Injections and Muscle Relaxants
Steroid injections may also be an effective tactic to battle neck pain. These shots go directly into the source of pain and can relieve the pressure of a pinched nerve. Muscle relaxants are another possibility the doctor may consider. These drugs can reduce the intensity and frequency of muscle spasms in the person's neck.
“Treatment options for neck pain can range from at-home remedies to medications and surgery.”
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When Hospitalization is Needed for Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common symptom of many conditions. While most are minor, some may require more involved care. Many times, home remedies and a visit to your primary care doctor are enough to treat neck pain. In more dire situations, however, hospitalization may be necessary. Patients experiencing the following symptoms should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately:
- Breathing problems
- Heavy bleeding
- Severe headache
- Swelling or deformity at the injury site
- Unconsciousness or unresponsiveness, no matter how brief
Such symptoms can indicate more severe conditions, including but not limited to meningitis. Patients' spinal cords and brains may be compromised, particularly if these symptoms are associated with traumatic injury, muscle weakness, or high fever. Other signs of neurological issues include feeling a tingling sensation, general fatigue, brain fog, and shooting pains or numbness. This is especially true for patients who have already tested negative for potential heart problems. In any case, patients should be prepared to answer questions about what type of pain they are experiencing, any possible triggers, treatments they have already tried, and more.
“… patients should be prepared to answer questions about what type of pain they are experiencing, any possible triggers, treatments they have already tried, and more.”
Questions Answered on This Page
Q. When should I go to a primary care doctor for neck pain?
Q. Should I go to the hospital about my neck pain?
Q. Can I see a specialist for neck pain?
People Also Ask
Q. When should people see a primary care doctor for neck or back pain?
Q. What will happen if I do not treat my arthritis?
Referring Out to Neck Pain Specialist
While an primary care physician can help with most cases of neck pain, some patients may benefit from a more long-term relationship with a specialist. In such instances, we may refer our patients out to a physical therapist or chiropractor. Physical therapists are one of the most popular types of neck pain specialists. They apply various treatments to reduce enough pain and stiffness to begin an active program of stretching and strengthening the neck. However, the specific methods, exercises, and duration of the treatment plan vary according to each patient's needs.
A chiropractor, also known as a doctor of chiropractic, is a specialist who primarily uses manual manipulation to treat spinal and musculoskeletal problems. These manual therapies may include spinal manipulation, mobilization, and adjunctive therapies to relieve pain and improve spinal function. Spinal manipulation is the original chiropractic adjustment, and it consists of a high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust. In contrast, spinal mobilization consists of a low-force, gentle technique that does not twist the body.
“While a primary care physician can help with most cases of neck pain, some patients may benefit from a more long-term relationship with a specialist.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Should I see a physician for neck pain after an auto accident?
A. Yes. You are likely experiencing the most common type of auto accident injury, known as whiplash. Whiplash is caused by a rapid movement of the head and can worsen over time.
Q. Why does my neck hurt for seemingly no reason?
A. Many conditions may cause neck pain, including abnormal posture and cervical spinal alignment. Such conditions can lead to chronic neck and back pain until corrected. A physical therapist or chiropractor can help resolve these conditions with prolonged treatment, and an primary care physician can help treat the symptoms.
Q. How is neck pain diagnosed?
A. Usually, neck pain diagnosis only requires a physical examination. However, in some cases, medical imaging testing may also be necessary. Such tests may include X-rays or MRIs.
Q. Can I prevent neck pain?
A. Maintain proper posture whenever possible. When you sleep, do not use a pillow that causes the spine to bend awkwardly. An primary care physician can give you more specific recommendations tailored to your unique lifestyle.
Q. Are there surgical options for neck pain?
A. Yes. However, surgery is only recommended as a last resort. Most people will not need surgery to resolve their neck pain.
Start Feeling Better – Visit Us Today
By visiting us as soon as possible, our team can help get you the professional treatment you need. Instead of waiting around and allowing the symptoms to get worse, we can provide you with treatment options.
Definition of Medical Terminology
- Brain Fog
- A form of cognitive dysfunction that manifests in the form of memory problems, poor concentration, lack of mental clarity, and inability to focus.
- A medical professional’s official determination of which disease or condition a person’s symptoms stem from.
- Muscle Relaxants
- Medications that increase muscle mobility while reducing pain and skeletal muscle spasms.
- Physical Therapist
- A type of specialist that uses passive and active therapies to improve patients’ range of movement and reduce the amount of pain they experience.
Call Us Today
Unfortunately, many patients are tempted to put off going to the doctor and try to deal with neck pain alone. While this approach may work for minor issues, individuals should seek immediate medical attention for pain that increases or does not subside with home treatment. A primary care physician can use different methods to reduce the pain and make an official diagnosis.
If you live in or near New York and need relief from back pain, do not delay. Walk into Marina Gafanovich, MD today. Call us today at 212-548-3263 to learn more about our services.
Helpful Related Links
- American Academy of Otolaryngology. American Academy of Otolaryngology. 2022
- American Assocation of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. American Assocation of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine. 2022
- American Journal of Medicine. American Journal of Medicine. 2022
- American Medical Association (AMA). American Medical Association (AMA). 2022
- Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation. 2022
- Orthopaedic Surgery: Association of American Medical Colleges. Orthopaedic Surgery: Association of American Medical Colleges. 2022
- John Hopkins Medicine Orthopaedic Surgery. John Hopkins Medicine Orthopaedic Surgery. 2022
- Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 2022
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