When should I see a doctor?
If your neck pain lasts more than a few days, you should see a healthcare professional. You should also speak to them if you:
- have symptoms other than pain and stiffness
- have pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms or legs
- have sudden severe pain after a fall or injury
- suddenly develop neck stiffness along with difficulty lifting both arms above your head.
Physical Therapy Interventions are used to treat muscle spasms, pinched nerves, strains, stiffness, tingling/numbness in hands, concussions, and whiplash injuries from motor vehicle accidents (MVA). Physical Therapists at JET Physical Therapy will diagnose and treat your underlying condition to get you on your road to recovery.
Pain and stiffness
- You may feel pain in the middle or on either side of your neck, but it may also extend to the shoulder or to the upper chest.
- You may have pain or weakness in your arms.
- You may have tension headaches, where the pain can travel to the back of your head and sometimes into your ear or behind your eye.
- It may be painful to move your neck and your muscles may feel tight, especially if you’ve been sitting or sleeping in one position for a long time.
- You may notice that your neck won’t turn as far as it normally does, for example when you try to look over your shoulder while reversing the car.
Clicking or popping noises
- You may hear or feel clicking or grating as you move your head. This is called crepitus, and it can be caused by air bubbles popping, or tissues and bones moving over each other, in the joint. Other joints often do this too, but noises from your neck usually seem louder because they’re happening closer to your ears. You may also find they’re more noticeable at night. While this is a common symptom and can sound alarming, it’s not serious.
Dizziness and blackouts
- If you feel dizzy when looking up or turning your head, this may be due to pinching of the arteries that run alongside the spine, otherwise known as vertebral arteries. This can sometimes happen as a result of changes in the vertebrae. Pinching of these vertebral arteries can occasionally cause blackouts as the blood flow is temporarily reduced. However, blackouts can have other causes so it’s important to seek medical advice if this is happening to you.
- Muscle spasms are the sudden stiffening of a muscle or groups of muscles in your body. Often there is no known cause and they can be very unpleasant. When it occurs in the neck it usually causes pain and stiffness down one side, which can make it difficult to turn your head.
- It usually only lasts a few hours or days, although rarely it may continue for several weeks. You can try to ease the pain at home with gentle stretches, over-the-counter painkillers, as well as heat or ice packs. People with muscle spasms report that applying heat is particularly soothing.