Hello again from your South Austin chiropractic care professionals at TexStar. We are willing to bet that the vast majority of you have woke to a neck so sore and stiff that you felt unsafe while driving your car. Sometime later that day (or week) it simply “worked itself out” and you didn’t give it a second thought. What if stiff necks, however, are a recurring problem in your life? How do you know if you simply periodically sleep wrong or if you might have some serious underlying condition?
We are happy to share the insights of our friends at Spine-Health who, like us, are patient-focused and freely allow us to share their education and advice on the subject of stiff neck pain.
When Is a Stiff Neck Serious?
A stiff neck can be annoying, but it is usually not cause for panic. In rare cases, however, it could signal the need for a prompt medical evaluation. This page contains some ways to know when a stiff neck might be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition.
See Chronic Neck Pain: What Condition Is Causing My Neck Pain?
If neck pain becomes chronic, it’s likely that some form of medical treatment or guidance
is needed to alleviate the pain. See Diagnosing Neck Pain
Red Flag Symptoms That Can Accompany a Stiff Neck
If a stiff neck is the result of a condition other than a strain or sprain, oftentimes other symptoms will also be present. In such cases, typically at least one other symptom will develop with or before the stiff, painful neck occurs.2
See Neck Strain: Causes and Remedies
Below are “red flag” symptoms that could indicate a potentially serious underlying medical condition is causing the stiff neck:
- Fever, which likely signals an infection is being fought
- Headache, especially if it seems different from previous headaches in terms of duration, intensity, or accompanying symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or unexplained drowsiness
- Change in mental state, which could include confusion or mood swings
- Coordination issues, such as dizziness or problems walking or writing
- Weight loss that is not part of a diet change
These symptoms should motivate the individual to seek immediate medical attention, but they do not necessarily mean a serious condition or medical emergency is present.
Informative article, wouldn’t you agree? We know that often the more you learn, the more questions that arise. As always, that’s where we come in. If you have any questions about neck pain or about anything related to spinal health or pain, we welcome the opportunity to help you out. Contact us by phone at (512) 899-2228 or by webform.