Neck pain is, in most cases, nothing to worry about. It can be caused by a range of different things, including sleeping in a poor position, or a sudden backwards and forwards movement, which is known as whiplash. Usually, at home treatment is all that is required to relieve the pain and heal. However, you do need to know when to see a doctor for severe neck pain. This is because there are situations where the pain can be indicative of something very serious. Furthermore, if you find that the pain limits your quality of life, or does not improve with at home treatment, you should also seek help from a physician.

When to See a Doctor for Severe Neck Pain by calling 911:

If you notice any of the following, either on yourself or someone else, you should phone an ambulance immediately:

– The pain is accompanied by chest pain, or any other symptom that could be indicative of a heart attack. Watch for nausea and shortness of breath, for instance.

– The person experiencing neck pain has sustained an injury that could point to spinal damage. This could be after a blow to the spine, a fall, or a car accident, for instance. Watch for numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs or arms, severe pain to the neck of back, or being unable to move certain parts of the body. If you witness an accident and some people seem to have hurt their neck, or experience pain in the neck, you should not, under any circumstances, move them. Phone 911 immediately and explain the situation. They may provide you with advice on how to immobilize the person. There is a chance the person sustained a spinal injury, which could lead to paralysis if moved.

When to See a Doctor for Severe Neck Pain by Requesting Immediate Medical Care:

If you experience any of the following, it is important to phone a doctor and request an immediate appointment:

– If you suddenly experience numbness in your legs, buttocks, or arms, of if this numbness gets worse.

– If you suddenly experience weakness in your legs or arms, or if this gets worse. For instance, you may suddenly find it difficult to stand up.

– If you lose bowel or bladder control.

– If your pain has persisted for a long time and suddenly gets worse, without there being a clear reason for this.

– If you are HIV positive, have AIDS, or have or have had cancer and your pain is new or suddenly gets worse.

– If the pain is so bad that it wakes you up when you sleep.

What to Watch Out For?

In the vast majority of cases, neck pain will not require any form of medical attention, and you should be able to treat it with rest, hot and/or cold packs, and over the counter painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if your pain doesn't start to improve after around 48 hours, if it gets worse, or if it stops you from engaging in everyday activities, you should telephone your physician for further advice.