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Should I see a doctor about my neck pain?

Most neck pain is caused by a simple muscular strain and clears up within a few days. You can often treat these spells of neck pain yourself with over-the-counter painkillers and by finding the right balance between rest and gentle exercise to ease stiffness.

If your pain lasts more than a few days, then you should see your doctor or a physiotherapist in case you have a more complex problem. You should also speak to them if you:

  • have symptoms other than pain and stiffness
  • have pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms
  • have sudden severe pain after a fall or injury
  • suddenly develop neck stiffness along with stiffness in both shoulders.

Some rare causes of neck pain are bone problems such as fracture – often linked to thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) – or infection, a tumour, inflammation such as in ankylosing spondylitis, or meningitis. If you suspect you may have any of these it's best to see your doctor. 


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