Between 30–70% of Americans experience chronic neck pain at any given time impacting people’s mobility and overall well-being. Despite the alarming statistic, many people leave neck pain undiagnosed and untreated which only makes neck stiffness worse and limits their range of motion over time.
While most neck pain is caused by mild to severe external trauma, it can also be caused by aging. As you age or stay sedentary, your neck tendons, bones, ligaments, muscles, and nerves can weaken. In time, you may experience discomfort in the form of sporadic neck pain that extends to your arms and legs, or numbness, tingling, and persistent headaches.
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, but ignoring their severity and frequency, you may be risking the development a chronic neck condition.
According to research, leaving neck pain unattended increases the chances of fostering degenerative disc disease, cervical myelopathy, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, and pinched nerve, among other conditions.
Read on for five signs that indicate that it may be time to consult a neurosurgeon to look at your chronic neck pain.
1. You Can’t Move Your Neck Freely Without Experiencing a Dull or Sharp Pain
If you’re struggling to turn your head to each side, it may be time to talk to your doctor who may refer you to a specialist.
While neck pain can be caused by mild injuries, they tend to heal over time. However, if you experience pain for weeks or even months, you may have cause for concern.
If you haven’t been able to move your neck freely without experiencing a dull or sharp pain for a long time, you don’t have to live it—talk to your doctor. Resorting to home remedies may not be enough to provide relief or they could cause further damage.
2. You’re Experiencing Muscle Weakness
Weak muscles (also known as asthenia) either locally in the neck or generally throughout your whole body is one of the most common symptoms of chronic pain.
People who suffer from muscle weakness tend to feel fatigued, and can’t move their neck, arms, or legs.
While most people experience mild muscle weakness, asthenia may increase in severity depending on an injury or a person’s age. Aging adults can experience severe muscle weakness as their cartilage withers.
As the pressure on the delicate neck joints increases, the surrounding muscles become inflamed which makes it difficult to walk normally and flex the neck forward (nuchal rigidity).
If you’re experiencing muscle weakness, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
3. You Recently Underwent an Accident or Injury
If you’ve sustained an injury while working out at the gym or suffered an accident that inflicted trauma on your neck, leaving painful symptoms untreated could cause long-term damage.
Harsh movement or external pressure can damage the cervical vertebrae (the bones in your neck).
In most cases, accidents and injuries cause whiplash. However, the condition can easily escalate if left alone and untreated. Prolonging the time between when you experience the trauma and treating it can increase the odds of developing chronic neck pain and restricted mobility and inflexibility.
Patients who consult their doctor as soon as they’re injured decrease their chances of needing surgery. Depending upon the injury, getting a timely diagnosis can increase the odds of non-invasive and minimally-invasive treatments working allowing you to resume normal activities without undergoing invasive surgery.
4. You Can’t Seem to Identify a Cause for Your Headaches
That nagging neck pain may require medical attention if you are also suffering from persistent headaches without knowing the cause. This happens a lot with neck injuries.
These types of headaches may begin with mild intensity, but slowly develop into throbbing pain over time. Consult your doctor who may refer you to a neurosurgeon who can thoroughly examine you and provide a diagnosis to discover the cause of your inexplicable neck pain.
5. Your Upper Back and Shoulders Hurt
People who experience chronic neck pain that extends to their back, shoulders, and limbs need immediate medical attention.
If you have generalized neck pain, you could have damaged tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves in your neck. This damage may extend to the vertebral column which may put you at risk of developing serious conditions that affect the upper back and neck. Don’t ignore these symptoms.
If you’ve experienced a recent injury or have been living with chronic neck pain, see your doctor for a diagnosis and get yourself on the road to treating it. If you live on the West side, you’ll find our neck pain center Houston staffed with some of the top neurosurgeons in America lead by Dr. G. Alexander West who can diagnose and treat a wide range of complex neck and back conditions.
Schedule a consultation to start the process of finding relief and getting your mobility back.
For more information on our neurosurgical spine treatment Houston, call 832-522-8500.