When to Worry About Neck Pain

Highlighted spine of woman with neck pain; blog: when to worry about neck pain


Neck pain can be a real … pain in the neck. But, how should you judge whether it’s something serious that you should see a doctor for or something that will just heal on its own in a couple of days? Here are a few useful tips to consider when deciding if you should seek medical help.

Serious Accidents and Injuries

If you’ve been in a serious accident, such as a car crash or sports injury, that has caused substantial pain or restricted your neck movement, you should visit the hospital or call emergency medical services immediately. These are not the types of injuries that will just disappear in a few days or weeks.


Whiplash is an injury to your neck bones, muscles, ligaments and/or nerves. It is commonly the result of your head or neck being jerked forward or backward. The most common symptoms of whiplash include stiffness or pain in the neck. Whiplash can take effect immediately after an incident or appear in a few days or even weeks. Other symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of memory or difficulty concentrating
  • Shoulder or back pain

If you are experiencing signs of whiplash, visit your doctor for treatment as symptoms can get worse over time, or there could be more severe issues that you are unable to diagnose and treat on your own.

Signs of Nerve Damage

Usually, neck stiffness isn’t enough to warrant a trip to your doctor, unless it’s been bothering you for longer than a few weeks. But, what if you are experiencing other symptoms along with your stiff neck? These symptoms combined with a stiff neck could indicate that you have nerve damage, potentially caused by a bone, joint, or cartilage putting an abnormal amount of pressure or pinching a nerve.

  • Shooting pain down your arms or legs
  • Dizziness, vertigo, recurring loss of balance, or unexplained clumsiness
  • Migraines
  • Recent injury
  • Tingling feeling or numbness in your extremities
  • Bladder or bowel control issues

Signs of Meningitis

Meningitis can be a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection that causes inflammation of the membrane of your brain and spinal cord. It can lead to neck stiffness along with the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained sensitivity to bright lights
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately. Meningitis that is caused by a bacterial infection can be fatal if not treated quickly.

Contact Regional Neurological Associates

If you have questions or concerns about your neck pain, reach out to Regional Neurological Associates today. Our team specializes in diagnosing back pain and neck pain, and in assessing risks and treatment options. Understanding that each back and neck pain patient is unique, we take an individualized approach to care to help alleviate that pain as much as possible. Call (718) 515-4347 to schedule an appointment.