Thursday, February 2, 2017

Diagnosing Neck Pain

There are three general types of neck pain:
  • Acute. Pain that lasts less than 4 weeks.
  • Subacute. Pain that lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic. Pain that lasts 3 or more months.
For acute neck pain, a specific cause is oftentimes not known or even sought. The pain goes away within 4 weeks, so most people are just happy to get on with their lives and aren’t concerned with what specifically caused the temporary nuisance.
But when neck pain becomes subacute or chronic, then it’s likely that some form of medical treatment or guidance is needed to alleviate the pain. Depending on the cause, there may be more effective treatments for certain conditions.

Complete History of Patient

As a first step to diagnosing the specific cause of neck pain, typically a doctor will take a thorough history of the patient. In addition to learning about the person’s medical background, the doctor will ask the person questions about the following:
  • Description of neck pain. When did the pain start? Does it come and go? Is the pain in one spot, or does it radiate into the shoulders, arms, or fingers? Are there any other symptoms in addition to neck pain?
  • Occupation. What type of work does the person do? Does the person perform manual labor or sit in front of a computer all day? What is the commute like?
  • Lifestyle. What type of hobbies or activities does the person enjoy? Does the person tend to be more active or sedentary—for instance, do hobbies include gardening, watching TV, or swimming?
  • Posture. Does the person often slouch or tilt the head forward? What type of chairs are used?

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