Neck Pain Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

cervical spine exam

Neck pain symptoms fall into certain categories where the pain can be dull to sharp and sometimes radiating.

It is common sense that if neck pain persists whether dull or sharp these symptoms should not be ignored. As a precaution a visit to the physician is always recommended.

After all, neck pain is often indicative of some form of ailment which can be easily exacerbated by the repeated movements that an individual performs throughout the day. Here we will examine the categories of neck pain and the symptoms associated in each diagnosis. Never to be ignored!

Initial Testing

C SpineOn initial evaluation your specialist will ask you questions about the symptoms and how long they have persisted. It is very important to discuss if there was specific injury or activity that prompted the pain. The doctor will check the areas of tenderness and range of motion, distribution of pain and numbness. The specialist will take (1) x-rays to see degeneration of the cervical spine related to arthritis (2) MRI study to identify any disc herniations or nerve compression (3) CT scan to look at the bony structure in depth and (4) Electromyographic/Nerve Conduction studies to locate the specific nerve problem and (6) check posture.

Radiating Pain or Cervical Radiculitis

Neck pain symptoms in this particular category are the most severe and most difficult to treat. The patient will feel sharp pain in the neck region and shooting pain throughout the upper extremity. Most often the cause of these symptoms is an injury which causes compression on a nerve root from a herniated cervical disc. One of the more troubling noted symptoms with this condition is numbness in parts of the affected area. Muscle spasms and limited neck motion complicate the problem here and must be treated to get relief of these neck pain symptoms. Recovery from this condition can take months.

Acute Neck Pain or Cervical Sprain

cervical collarNeck pain symptoms from a cervical sprain should not be ignored. This type of injury causes severe pain but is localized in the neck region. The cervical pain increases during movement or lifting and is always present. The doctor many times with acute cervical sprain will recommend a soft cervical collar to support the region. These injuries are usually caused by specific trauma or a sudden twisting motion of the neck. Cervical sprains are common in sports such as football, soccer, basketball and hockey even when helmets are utilized.

Chronic Neck Pain or Degenerative Disc Disease

Neck pain symptoms that are long lasting fit into this category. Once symptoms persist you should be examined by a doctor. Many people decide not to pursue medical care because the pain is often dull rather than sharp. Symptoms of a mild neck strain will typically subside within a month. Once symptoms persist past this point in time then it is imperative to make an appointment with a doctor. X-ray C spineSpecialists will determine if this chronic pain is from narrowing of the spinal canal (cervical stenosis), arthritis (degenerative joint disease) or herniated cervical disc. What accelerates chronic neck pain is overuse activities such as leaning forward working on a computer or texting on cell phone. Long lasting neck pain symptoms is directly related to curvatures of the spine and poor posture. Some of the risk factors to slow down chronic pain are avoid awkward positioning, reduce heavy workload and get into exercise to improve your physical condition.

Neck Pain Symptoms Never to Ignore

In summary neck symptoms never to ignore are (1) cervical pain intensifies with mobility (2) increased rigidity in neck (3) increased radiating pain, numbness and weakness throughout upper extremity and (4) increased sensitivity in upper extremities to touch.