Question: For What Kinds Of Neck Pain Should I Seek Medical Attention?
Answer: Neck pain is a very common problem, and certainly one that is more common in patients who have had injuries to the head or neck, or certain occupations -- those individuals involved with dentistry, medicine, mechanics -- so ones that involve certain neck positioning for extended periods of time. So neck pain's fairly common.
What drives one to seek attention for it would be a number of things. One, should this neck pain be progressively worsening over time; is it something that was mild, now is becoming moderate to severe? Does it interfere with your function, are you finding you're needing to lie down during the course of the day, that you need to miss work because of the neck pain. But these features are not all that common with neck pain, most people kind of tough it out.
What you're really looking for is, is the neck pain a symptom of a problem in the spine, in the cervical spine, that would lead to other symptoms. So, pain or numbness down your arm, tingling in the fingers, dysfunction of your speech or swallowing. So, you're looking more for neurologic issues -- trouble with walking, trouble with your bowel or bladder function. So, these would be indicators that the neck pain, which may be arthritic, may be related to a disc, may be related to something more serious, those neck pain symptoms as an indicator of spinal problems that might be potentially more serious. So, we're looking for the other things, not necessarily the neck pain itself.