When to See a Doctor for Stiff Neck Treatment

Published October 19th, 2022 by Devteam

Did you know that around 86% of people in the United States suffer from neck pain? If you find that you have a stiff or painful neck, you might be wondering what could have possibly caused it and how you can treat it.

There are many stiff neck treatment options available and most of them you can do at home. 

However, what if your stiff neck doesn't go away after a few days or even a week? When should you go to a doctor and find out if you need professional stiff neck treatments?

Keep reading and learn more about what you can do for your stiff neck and if you might need to see a doctor to get it treated. 

What You Need to Know About Treating a Stiff Neck

There are many reasons why you might have a stiff neck and most of them are not serious. For example, you might have slept on your neck wrong and simply strained a muscle as a result. In most cases, a stiff neck will go away on its own after a few days. 

You just need to wait for the muscles and tendons in your neck to relax and go back to normal. If your neck is particularly stiff or painful, there are some neck stiffness treatment options you can try at home. For example, getting someone to massage your neck will be very helpful.

Massaging the area will increase the flow of blood to your neck muscles. This will allow those muscles to get a better supply of oxygen and nutrients to help them heal faster. A massage can also help the muscles themselves relax, especially if they are especially tense or swollen due to exercise or an injury. 

Putting on a cold pack will also be helpful for treating a stiff neck. A cold pack or an ice pack will numb the muscles in the area and make any pain and discomfort far less noticeable. This is not to mention that cold packs can also help reduce any inflammation or swelling that your neck might be experiencing, and they are especially helpful for reducing pain.. 

Stretching your neck is another good and easy treatment that you can try. When you stretch your neck, always be sure to do so by using gentle and slow movements. The last thing you want to do is pull and yank on your neck as this will likely make the problem worse. 

The Details

Instead, try gently moving your head back and forth and side to side. Being gentle is the key. You never want to stretch or move into pain.  This will start to gently create mobility which in turn will help reduce inflammation and pain. 

Try to avoid crunching your neck against your shoulders as this will constrict blood flow to the back of your neck. After a few days, your stiff neck should go away on its own. 

But what if your neck issues persist for a week or more?

When Should You See a Doctor to Treat Your Stiff Neck?

If your neck stiffness lasts for a week or more, this may be a sign that you're dealing with a more serious problem. The first sign that you should go see a doctor is that your neck stiffness starts to get worse even with all your home treatments. You should also seek professional help if the stiffness and pain start to spread such as to your arms, legs, or the rest of your spine. 

Any numbness and tingling that come along with the stiff neck is also a bad sign. If you have a stiff neck and happen to have a very high fever, you should go see a doctor as soon as possible. Both symptoms together may mean that you have meningitis. 

Meningitis is a very serious infection that affects the membranes that coat the brain and spinal cord. If left untreated, the consequences could be very serious and could even be fatal. Fortunately, if you do have meningitis, your doctor can fix this problem by administering antibiotics. 

What You Need to Know

It is best to catch this problem early before it starts to seriously damage your health and inhibit lifestyle. Besides meningitis, your stiff neck may be due to a recent accident. If you have been in a car accident or other accident that involved trauma to your neck, your neck may not have healed properly.  It’s very important to have an X-ray taken to determine underlying cause.

You might have a pinched nerve, a broken bone, or another problem that is keeping you from exercising the full flexibility of your neck. If you have recently been in an accident and are still suffering from neck problems, go see your doctor. You will likely get an X-ray of your neck to see if there is anything structurally wrong with it. 

If so, you may need to go to physical therapy or a chiropractor to fix the problem. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. 

You should also go to the doctor if your neck stiffness is associated with symptoms such as muscle weakness, fatigue, or an inability to move some of your muscles. This could mean that your neck stiffness is part of something much more serious.

All About Stiff Neck Treatment Options

Usually, a stiff neck is a minor problem that will go away on its own. There are many stiff neck treatment options you can try at home to fix the problem. However, if your stiff neck doesn't go away on its own, it may be time to see a doctor. 

To learn more, contact us here.

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