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When is neck pain a cause for concern?

Age: 16 - 29
Pain Sport Medicine Health & Fitness Spine Health
DOCTOR’S ANSWER (2)

Neck pain (back of neck, not the front) must be further evaluated by a specialist with an MRI scan if accompanied by the following:

  1. following an injury (e.g. fall, accident, manipulation)
  2. following a cancer treatment
  3. following fever/chills/rigors with or without sore throat or difficulty in swallowing
  4. spreading of neck pain down your arm
  5. spreading of neck pain upwards with headache, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting
  6. "pins and needles" numbness in either one or both hands/fingers, or rest of your body
  7. 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)
  8. unremitting or worsening pain, day and night, after 2-3 weeks despite adequate neck rest/care and medications from your GP
65 views 5 Jul 2019

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:

  1. Degenerative disc disease
  2. Neck strain
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Cervical spondylosis
  5. Spinal stenosis
  6. Herniated disc
  7. Cervical radiculopathy


Neck pain can also arise from:

  1. Common infections, such as virus infection, leading to lymph node (gland) swelling and neck pain
  2. Rare infections, such as osteomyelitis, septic discitis, meningitis
  3. Muscular problems of the neck
  4. Poor positioning of the neck while sleeping


Please see a doctor in order to rule out any potentially complicated diagnosis.

Best regards
Dr Quah

33 views 6 Jul 2019
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