Neck Pain Could Be Serious

Neck Pain Could Be Serious

It’s easy to believe a stiff neck is just, well, a stiff neck. Maybe you slept in a funny position. Maybe you’ve been hunched over a computer screen too long.

But a stiff neck, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, can be the sign of something far more serious than aching muscles. Here are some options for what could be going on. (Note: This is not a complete list,)

Stiff Neck

Well, it could be a stiff neck after all. The symptoms are easy to recognize: your neck hurts or you’ve lost your normal range of motion with your neck.

If the pain is more severe, consult with a physician or pain management specialist for further remedies

Sleeping in an awkward position or spending too long hunched over a computer or a smartphone can bring this on.

Responses: a warm compress, over-the-counter pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, a massage, gentle stretching, a collar to restrict movement while you heal. Make sure you find support for your head at night that doesn’t put you in a strained position.


Whiplash is a more severe neck strain, usually brought on by a sudden jolt experienced in an automobile accident. Note: It could be possible that symptoms of whiplash – among them: pain in neck, shoulders, back, arms – can occur many hours or even days after the accident occurs.

Response: Depending on the severity of the strain, over the counter pain medications could help along with massage, physical therapy, rest, and warm compresses. If the pain is more severe, consult with a physician or pain management specialist for further remedies.

Herniated Disc

Herniated discs are generally associated with lower back pain, because lower vertebrae are holding up more weight than the ones higher up. However, vertebral discs in the neck can also be injured. Degenerative disc disease can result in loss of moisture in the discs (which are gel-like cushions between the bony vertebrae). This makes it easier for them to tear or rupture.

Response: See your physician or a pain management specialist if you are experiencing persistent pain in the neck. Treatment for herniated discs includes: heat, medication, rest, chiropractic intervention, but also may require surgery to repair or mitigate the damage.

Spinal Tumor

This is a very serious condition often recognized by feeling weak, especially in the legs. Nausea and fever could also be present.

Response: A spinal tumor could require surgery and, depending on results of laboratory work, radiation and chemotherapy if the tumor is malignant.

Bone Spur

Small growths on the vertebrae called bone spurs can be painful. They are often accompanied by headaches or a pinched nerve sensation.

Response: Discuss options with a pain management specialist. Ask about long-term pain management and surgery, which is sometimes done to remove the spurs.

Meningitis, Lyme Disease, and Other Illnesses

Meningitis and Lyme disease are two serious illnesses out of many that can include symptoms of a sore neck or a stiff neck.

RESPONSE: If you experience pain in your neck or a stiff neck that is accompanied by any of the following, see your physician as soon as possible:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to sleep
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Recent tick bite

These symptoms are red flags. They could be a sign of something more serious than sore muscles.

In San Diego, call the Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center at (858) 404-5944for any chronic pain. Making an appointment as soon as possible for stiff or painful neck conditions that include other symptoms, such as those listed here.

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