When Should You See a Specialist for a Neck, Back, or Spinal Cord Injury?

Most of the time, neck or back pain goes away on its own with self-care and time to heal. However, if you’ve suffered an injury to your back, spinal cord, or neck recently, you may be wondering when to see your primary care provider or even a specialist for the pain. 

Our team of skilled neurologists, neurosurgeons, and neurophysiologists are dedicated to helping patients feel better. If you’re experiencing chronic neck or back pain, or you’d like more information on conditions we treat and procedures we offer, contact Colorado Springs Neurological Associates today. Call our office at 719-473-3272 or fill out an online form to schedule an appointment.

Neck, Back, and Spinal Cord Injuries

Neck pain affects 30 to 50 percent of the population in any given year, making it a common health complaint. Back pain is even more common, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives.

If you’ve suffered a slight injury to your neck or back, you may feel discomfort in the muscles, nerves, or joints in the area. You may feel sore or stiff. You also may experience muscle spasms, tightness, or a headache. The affected area may ache constantly, or you may experience sharp and sudden pains.

Treating a Mild Injury at Home

Many cases of neck pain or back pain are mild and may improve fairly quickly on their own. If your injury was caused by common everyday activities, like poor posture, overexertion, or sleeping in an uncomfortable position, you can try treating your injury at home first. 

Get plenty of rest. Alternate between applying ice and heat to the affected area to reduce inflammation. You can also relieve pain with over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

When to See a Specialist

If your neck injury, back injury, or spinal cord injury was the result of an accident, such as a fall or a car crash, you should see a doctor immediately. 

Up to 90 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by trauma. It’s important that you seek immediate medical attention if you’ve been in a fall, a car accident or the victim of violence and suffered a spinal cord injury.

If your neck is so stiff you cannot move and you’re experiencing a headache and fever, you should also see a doctor immediately to rule out meningitis. If your neck pain is accompanied by heart attack symptoms like shooting pain in your arm, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or vomiting, also see a doctor right away.

It may be time to see a specialist for a neck injury or back injury if:

  • Mild pain does not go away after a week of at-home care
  • You have difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Regular doses of over-the-counter medicine do not relieve your pain
  • The pain worsens when you lie down
  • The glands in your neck are swollen
  • You’re having trouble walking or balancing
  • You’re having trouble controlling your bowel movements

Your primary care physician may refer you to a neurologist who will determine if you have any nerve-related disorders causing your pain. You may undergo tests such as electromyography (EMG), computed tomography scan (CT or CAT) scan, nerve conduction studies (NCS), and more. 

Examples of disorders that may be causing your neck pain or back pain include:

There are many other possible causes of neck pain or back pain. A specialist like a neurologist can help diagnose the problem, as well as develop a treatment plan for you that may involve pain medication, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or surgery, if necessary. 

Our Team of Specialists at CSNA

Whether you need evaluation and diagnosis from a neurologist or neuropsychologist, a treatment plan developed by a neurosurgeon, or pain management options for your neck or back pain, our specialists at CSNA can help. We’re experienced in diagnosing, treating, and managing a variety of neurological disorders.

To get started with a free consultation, call our Colorado Springs, Colorado, office at 719-473-3272 to speak to a CSNA representative, or fill out an online form. We look forward to helping you.

You may also ‘like’ and follow the CSNA Facebook page for practice updates and health resources.

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Colorado Springs Neurological Associates (CSNA) recognizes that neurological disease doesn’t stop for a pandemic. While under the restrictions of COVID-19, telehealth appointments will be made available to our patients.

In person appointments are still available; however, if you’re sick, immunocompromised, or would just prefer a telehealth appointment, please call our scheduling department at 719-473-3272.