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What Happens To Untreated Neck Pain & When To Go To Doctor For It?

Neck pain can result from muscle strain, arthritis or in cases of serious trauma that involves injury to the head. When you suffer from head trauma, it is important to seek immediate doctor attention. Other common causes are torsion, sudden jerks, or unexpected head movements. Sports personalities and individuals who sit in the desk for extended periods have higher risks of neck pain. Basically, sports people are constantly involved with rapid neck movements that can strain your neck and cause pain.

What Happens To Untreated Neck Pain?

What Happens To Untreated Neck Pain?

Although neck pain is the most common condition, it may arise due to a multitude of factors. Most of the cases get resolved by itself within a limited period though if it is left untreated. Rarely untreated neck pain can cause progression and result in permanent balance problems, weakness, and numbness. In certain conditions, it causes paralysis as well.(1)

Common neck pain or stiffness can last from few days to few weeks. However, when neck pain is persistent or increasing its intensity and frequency over time, it is a condition that you need to pay some extra attention. There are can be something greater happening inside your body system.

When you have shooting pain or numbness in the shoulders, arm, and back, then it is an indication of some serious symptom. If such cases left untreated, the progression of the condition might occur. This can result in intensifying pain and decreased the function of your bones and joints. You might also encounter balance issues and have problems with bladder or bowels.

Often you may have a question, whether you should wait until it goes away on its own or should you call a doctor?

When To Go To Doctor For Neck Pain?

Some cases of neck pain subside by itself however some conditions may require medical attention. Here are the few signs that indicate you should definitely see a doctor
Worsening Neck Pain Even When You Are At Rest- Some conditions of neck pain doesn’t get better even when you rest and keep yourself up all night. This is often accompanied by mild to high fever. This is perhaps a symptom of meningitis. Infections with regard to meningitis grow very faster and it should not be delayed. Immediate attention and treatment can save your life

The previous History Of Cancer- If you are suffering from cancer and experience neck pain issues then it is a warning symptom of colon, rectum or ovary cancer. Medical studies state that growing cancer can cause pain in neck and back. Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and it can cause worsening spinal and shoulder pain for 8 days. If you experience these kinds of symptoms it is time to go to the doctor.

Traumatic injury – Neck problems and injuries most commonly occur during sports or recreational activities and work-related tasks. However, some condition may occur due to traumatic injuries such as car collisions, diving accident or falls. This should be treated within 24 hours. Some of the symptoms of injuries include

Getting Weaker And Losing Imbalance- If you are experiencing difficulties in controlling your bladder and feel that your legs are growing progressively weaker or having challenges in maintaining your balances, you should immediately head to the emergency. These are typical symptoms of cauda equine syndromes, a very critical condition. This requires immediate attention.(2)


Neck pain caused by muscle tension or sprain goes away on its own within a few days. However, when pain persists, seeking medical attention is a wise decision. Left untreated result in upper body discomfort and limit your movements. So don’t delay and act smart!


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 16, 2019

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