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What Are Some Red Flags For Neck Pain?

Some of the red flags for neck pain that could mean a serious condition include severe pain, persistent pain, pain after an accident, symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the arms, fever, chills and weakness in the extremities. These can be signs of a serious issue that requires immediate treatment to prevent further impairment of mobility.

Neck pain can be a result of accident, sports activities, straining during work tasks or degenerative conditions. A variety of treatments are available for neck discomfort and limited mobility. Icing, massage, over-the-counter pain relievers, stress management and attention to posture and good sleep position can be helpful in reducing neck pain.

Table of Contents

Red flags to look out for

There are a few red flags in regard to neck pain that indicate more than just a simple muscle strain and may require intensive medical treatment.

Severe or persistent neck pain

According to the Harvard Health site, severe or persistent neck pain indicates you should seek out medical care immediately to determine the cause of the discomfort, which could be a serious condition, such as a stroke.

Neck pain following trauma or accident

If you have neck pain following a car accident, a fall or an injury from an impact during recreational activities, it could mean a serious injury of the upper spinal column that requires treatment.

Neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or hands

Any feelings of numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or hands could indicate an injury to the upper spine that is affecting normal nerve function.

Fever or Chills

Fever or chills can be a sign of infection, which can occur as a result of damage to the vertebrae in the neck and upper spinal column or in surrounding tissues. Medical attention is generally required for this type of condition.

Why are they important to identify?

Some types of neck pain can indicate a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment, so identifying the cause of your neck pain could be critical in preventing worsening health issues.

Risk factors for serious underlying conditions

Certain factors can put individuals at increased risk for serious underlying health problems, in regard to uncomfortable neck symptoms.

Age over 50 years old

Individuals who are over the age of 50 are at higher risk for dysfunction in the neck, due to aging of tissues and wear and tear on the neck joint.

History of cancer

If you have a history of cancer, you should be especially vigilant about unexpected discomfort in the spine or neck, which could indicate new tumor growth or aftereffects from treatment.

Previous history of spinal cord injury or surgery

If you have had previous spinal surgery or an injury to your spine, you may be predisposed to neck injuries.

Prevention and Self-Care

You can take active steps to prevent neck injury such as maintaining good posture, positioning yourself properly for sleep and other measures. Ice packs, heat packs, bracing and over-the-counter medications can be used for self-care when minor neck pain occurs.

Maintaining Proper Posture

Try to avoid slouching when sitting, leaning on one hip when standing for long periods and holding the head in one position for long periods of time, such as when at the computer.

Ergonomic Considerations

Make sure your seating at work supports your neck and spinal column to avoid strains. Adjust your computer monitor to allow your head and neck to be held in a comfortable position.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Regular exercising and stretches for neck muscles can help to avoid strains that lead to pain and stiffness.

Stress Management Techniques

Managing stress is an important part of caring for your health. Learn meditation techniques, yoga, mindfulness training and breathing exercises can help you to lower stress levels.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you know if neck pain is serious?

If your neck pain is serious, it will not get better with normal ice packs and over-the-counter medication. It may cause inability to turn the head. Pain will be persistent and may intensify with movement.

When not to ignore neck pain?

Any pain that severely impacts your daily life should be investigated by a health professional. Chronic pain that doesn’t do away after normal at-home methods should have medical attention.

What diseases start with neck pain?

A number of conditions can have neck pain as a symptom, including osteoarthritis, cancerous tumors on the upper spinal column, rheumatoid arthritis and meningitis.

What are 4 symptoms of text neck?

“Text neck” is a condition that occurs from bending the head over smartphone screens for long periods of time, which can lead to neck discomfort. The Spine-Health site notes that four common symptoms include pain, impairment of neck mobility, forward head position and frequent headaches.

What are the top 5 reasons for neck pain?

The top 5 reasons for neck pain include car accidents, muscle strain, nerve compression from degenerative conditions, osteoarthritis and prolonged use of computers.

How to solve neck pain at home?

When you have minor neck pain, applying ice packs and warm packs in an alternating manner can help to reduce pain. Massage can also be effective in relieving neck discomfort. NSAIDS medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen, available at your local pharmacy, can help to reduce inflammation and pain.

Is daily neck pain normal?

Generally, daily neck pain is not normal and is a sign that something is not right with the bones, muscles and nerves in the upper spine. The problem can be a result of an underlying health condition, poor ergonomics at work or poor sleep position.

How to sleep to avoid neck pain?

Experts at The Sleep Foundation recommend sleeping on the side or the back to avoid neck pain. Use a rounded pillow that allows you to have normal positioning of the neck and head. A rolled towel placed under the neck to support the natural curvature will help to avoid stress on neck structures.

Can stress cause neck pain?

Yes, stress can cause contraction of the muscles in the neck and upper back, which can lead to neck pain and stiffness.

What blood test is done for neck pain?

According to the Healthline site, when attempting to diagnose a problem that might be related to infection in the body, a complete blood count, or CBC, test is usually ordered. This test provides a range of information about the general condition of the body.