Who To See About Your Neck Pain

If you have neck pain, it is important to know when the injury requires more than your own basic management, and where to go to for help.


Neck pain may sneak up on you gradually, or hit you all of a sudden. Pain can be simply due to muscle tension, or from damage to joints, discs or nerves. The longer the neck pain lasts, the more factors tend to contribute, such as stress, posture, muscle weakness and chronic soft tissue changes. Neck pain that includes persisting pins and needles, numbness and/or weakness in the arm must be investigated, and may require surgery in severe circumstances.



See a Medical Doctor if any of these factors are present:

  • A history of trauma to the neck eg fall onto head/neck
  • A history of acceleration/deceleration injury eg car accident
  • General neck pain lasting more than 3 months
  • Arm pins and needles and/or numbness and/ or weakness lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Severe Sharp shooting pain lasting more than 2 weeks (bad enough to interrupt sleep)


A visit to a Medical Doctor, is always required if ‘red flags’ are present, eg

  • night sweats
  • waking in the night due to pain
  • unexplained weight loss
  • severe and escalating pain
  • history of tumor




Seek online or in person Physiotherapy consultation if there is:

  • Neck pain, that is not improving, lasting more than 3 days



Sit Tight

If you experience a sudden onset of neck pain (eg waking with it in the morning) and there is no arm pins and needles and/or numbness and/ or weakness, it is possible that it may settle in 2 to 3 days. Give the neck relative rest, heat and gentle movement. If it does not resolve, consult the guidelines above.