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Neck Strain (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

If one's symptoms do not go away as expected or if new symptoms appear, seek medical attention without delay.

  • Call a doctor if experiencing the following symptoms:
    • Severe, unremitting neck pain
    • Neck pain unaffected by changes in position or pain that is not controlled or if relief is not provided with appropriate medication
    • Severe night neck pain
    • Severe, persistent neck muscle spasms
    • Inability to perform daily work or activities that one could do prior to the illness
  • In addition, symptoms suggesting possible injury to the vital structures contained in the neck should prompt early contact with a doctor. These may include the following:
    • Weakness
    • Numbness
    • Tingling or loss of function particularly in the upper extremities
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Dizziness, headache, nausea, or vomiting
    • Ringing in the ears or decreased hearing
  • If unable to reach a doctor, one should go to a hospital's emergency department without delay for evaluation of any of these types of problems.
  • If one gets sick or reinjured while neck pain is present, contact a doctor.

Seek immediate medical attention for any symptom suggesting a problem affecting the nervous system, airway, or spinal cord.

  • Symptoms of spinal cord injury
    • Bowel or bladder retention or incontinence, that is, inability to control the bowels or bladder
    • Inability to urinate
    • Leg weakness or any new inability to walk
    • Poor balance
    • Vertigo
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
    • Any other acute symptoms suggesting a nerve problem
  • Evaluation by an orthopedist or neurosurgeon may be required to check for a condition requiring urgent surgical treatment.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/27/2015

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