The body needs to be taken care of. We eat healthy, work out, get regular checkups, do all of the necessary screenings and tests, and we do all other these things to try to keep our bodies healthy and youthful for as long as possible. We may let pains go for a while, thinking they will go away on their own, and sometimes they do. Certain pains just need some rest, a quick massage, or even a simple pain reliever in order for the pain to go away.

But some pains can be more serious. Some pains, if left unattended, can cause you more problems down the road. While back and neck pain may seem to be extremely serious, it is often not as bad as you think. But there are times when heading to the doctor is a good idea. Spine pain can come from something as simple as sleeping wrong, or being hunched over at our desk. Some back problems can stem from other things and can escalate to something more serious. Some back pain can be fixed easily, with sleeping in a different position, stretching, or even popping a few Advil. But knowing when it is nothing and when it is more serious can be tricky.

The Spine Pain Center is a great place to learn more about your neck and back pain. With three locations in South Carolina, it is easy to find a location that is close to you. Our locations are in North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia. For more than four decades, our experts have been helping alleviate spinal pain, allowing patients to feel relief from their pain. We offer chiropractic, medical, and physical rehabilitation services, helping with many different spine injuries and pains.

We can help you determine what is causing your spinal pain, what you need to relieve the pain, and how you can avoid future pains. We know that back and neck pain is never fun, that is why we work so hard help all of our patients get the care they need. In this blog, we will go over some of the signs of back pain that tell you to head to the doctor as soon as possible, while others may be nothing too serious.

An Accident

First thing we need to mention is if you have been in an accident and have started to have pain in your back or neck, you should see a doctor immediately. Accidents include car accidents, falls from a height, a rough sports accident, and similar events. If you are older and have fallen even a short distance, this may be a reason to get your pain looked at. WebMD states that even a short fall for people over 50 years old could cause a fracture.

Specific Symptoms

A PainScience.com article mentions a few symptoms to be aware of. Some neck pain can be a warning sign that you may have something more severe, including cancer, an autoimmune disease, an infection, or a structural problem like an injured spinal cord or a threat to an important blood vessel. This does not mean you need to head to the doctor every time your back or neck starts to hurt. There are three signs that will tell you when to go. These are your red flags:

  • The pain has been bothering your for more than six weeks
  • It is severe, not improving, and may be getting worse
  • At least one other red flag (you can find a checklist from the PainScience.com article)

If you have noticed all of these red flags, including one of the red flags from the checklist, it is time to go see a doctor. These signs and “red flags” don’t mean that you need to worry about having a more serious health issues, but they can help you determine whether or not you need to get it checked out. It is better to be safe than sorry, but again, every neck pain isn’t going to be something more severe. Some of the red flag items from the checklist include:

  • Pain when lightly tapped on spine
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A severe headache that comes out of nowhere
  • Unexplained episodes of dizziness and/or nausea
  • If you feel unwell in general

These are only a few of the items on the checklist, find the full list at the link above! You have had severe back or neck pain for more than six weeks along with one or more of the symptoms on the list, it is a good idea to see a specialist. Again, this is not a reason to worry, it is a reason to get check though in case there are any additional problems.

False Alarms

There are many neck and back pains that seem like they are bad news. You may experience pains that concern you and make you believe something is wrong, but some of these can actually be good signs. Don’t let every little neck or back pain cause you to worry, most of these pains may be nothing.

Shooting, stabbing, or sharp pain in the neck can seem worse than it really is. The PainScience.com actually mentions that sharp pain in the neck can actually be a bit reassuring. If these pains happen with no other symptoms, they usually just indicate a minor and temporary source of irritation in the cervical spine. These pains are not symptoms of something more severe, a throbbing pain is what indicates tumours, infections, and other spinal problems. Sharp and shooting pains are false alarms because they are often caused by your brain overreacting. Your brain is being overprotective about a minor irritation near or on the spine.

Stiff necks are another thing you don’t have to worry about. While a stiff neck may seem scary, it is generally minor diffuse musculoskeletal pain. This is nothing to worry about and is likely from sleeping, working out, or some other activity. However, if you have flu-like symptoms along with neck stiffness that causes you to not tilt your head forward without discomfort, this could be meningitis and requires medical attention.

There are some diseases and other medical issues that may be causing your neck pain. These can include shingles, bornholm disease, thyroiditis, and more. These are definitely not as serious as cancer, infections, or spinal problems, but it is nice knowing what is causing your neck pain.

Just remember that neck pain is generally nothing but a discomfort. It is always better to be informed and aware than to just assume you are completely fine. If you have symptoms along with your neck pain that may be concerning, head to a doctor for a diagnosis.

If you need relief from your pain, or want to know more about your pain and how to manage it, head into the Spine Pain Center. Our spine pain experts can help you get the best possible care and relief from your pain. Stop by or contact one of our three locations to get started on your back and neck pain relief today.

Remember, neck and back pain may seem more serious that it really is, but that doesn’t mean you should live with the pain and discomfort. We are here to help with your spine pain needs.