Getting an accurate diagnosis for your stiff neck pain is critical

stiff neck pain image.

Suffering from stiff neck pain is no fun

Getting an accurate diagnosis for your stiff neck pain is critical

The most important thing you can do when suffering from stiff neck pain or cervical spine pain, whether acute or chronic, is to first seek an accurate diagnosis.  To relieve neck pain and to relieve lower back pain,  you first must know what you are dealing with.  Most of the time the issue will be manageable, but it is very important to be sure you are not dealing with something more serious such as a tumor.  The best way to find a doctor is to ask for a recommendation.  Ask your friends or other health professionals for the name of a doctor you can trust.

The Initial Exam

When seeing a doctor for relief of neck or back pain you will be asked for a general medical history and given a general physical exam.  The doctor will ask questions about how long the pain has lasted and whether it is the result of an injury.  The doctor will probably ask questions about your work environment, what physical activities you do, whether or not you are under stress, and whether you have had similar problems in the past.  You will be examined for tenderness and asked about any numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.  The doctor will test your range of motion and what positions increase or decrease the pain.  Blood tests may be run to rule out infection.


If a general examination does not lead to a diagnosis, the doctor may follow up with other tests.  These may include:

  •  An X-Ray of the area to determine if the nerves or spinal cord is being pinched or whether a bulging disk or arthritis could be causing the pain.  This test is performed by a technician and causes no discomfort.
  • CAT scan which takes a picture of the area from multiple angles and may reveal abnormalities or injuries which are causing the pain.  These cross-sectional views may give a more accurate view of the affected area.  The CAT scan is performed by a technologist and is not painful.  You may have some discomfort from being confined in the scanner for a short time.
  • An MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field.  This can create detailed images of bones and soft tissue.  The MRI can determine if the pain is caused by nerves coming from the spinal cord.  This test is also performed by a technologist and may cause discomfort from being confined in a close space.  Some MRI machines are open so that the entire body does not have to be enclosed.

Once a diagnosis is made a course of treatment will be recommended.




Mayo Clinic Staff.  “Neck Pain.”


Rover, Elena.  “What to Do About Back Pain.”  More Magazine.


Shiel, William C. Jr. and Melissa Conrad Stoppler.  “Neck Pain.”  MedicineNet.Com.






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