When is it Neck Pain, When is it Something More?

By , Virtua Sports Medicine Physician

How often do you wake with neck pain, thinking you “slept wrong” or maybe overdid your upper body workout last night? While neck pain can be annoying and uncomfortable, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need medical treatment.

Even sharp, stabbing, or shooting pain in the neck isn’t usually a sign of a serious problem if it’s infrequent and isn’t accompanied by other symptoms. You often can alleviate a bout of neck pain with rest, ice therapy, heat therapy, gentle stretching, massage, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Of course, if you’ve had an injury or accident and experience these symptoms, you should seek medical help right away:

  • Your neck pain is severe, getting worse, or has persisted for more than a few weeks
  • You’re experiencing radiating pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness that goes into your arm
  • You’re experiencing pain, as well as nausea and/or dizziness
  • You have neck stiffness plus a headache and/or fever, which could be an indication of meningitis

Neck pain and stiffness often is a normal part of life, but if you have questions or concerns, you should consult with a doctor. Download the Virtua Health Guide to Back and Neck Pain or call 856-246-4272 to request a consultation with a Virtua neck pain specialist.

Updated January 14, 2022

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