When is neck pain a cause for concern?
Neck pain (back of neck, not the front) must be further evaluated by a specialist with an MRI scan if accompanied by the following:
- following an injury (e.g. fall, accident, manipulation)
- following a cancer treatment
- following fever/chills/rigors with or without sore throat or difficulty in swallowing
- spreading of neck pain down your arm
- spreading of neck pain upwards with headache, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting
- "pins and needles" numbness in either one or both hands/fingers, or rest of your body
- unsteadiness or weakness in either one or both hands/fingers, or both legs (e.g. tendency to drop things, tendency to trip or lose balance)
- unremitting or worsening pain, day and night, after 2-3 weeks despite adequate neck rest/care and medications from your GP
Thank you for your question. In general, neck pain is a concern if it persists for more than a few days.
It may be a sign of problems in the neck or spine which include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Neck strain
- Cervical spondylosis
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Cervical radiculopathy
Neck pain can also arise from:
- Common infections, such as virus infection, leading to lymph node (gland) swelling and neck pain
- Rare infections, such as osteomyelitis, septic discitis, meningitis
- Muscular problems of the neck
- Poor positioning of the neck while sleeping
Please see a doctor in order to rule out any potentially complicated diagnosis.