Question:I've been having neck pain off and on for the last two years after a car accident. What are the chances this will just go away eventually with time?
Answer:Knowing what will happen throughout the course of a disease, illness, or condition is called the natural history. With neck pain, the natural history is often unclear and varies from one patient to another.
Overall neck pain is considered benign, meaning it isn't life-threatening. It is also referred to as self-limiting, suggesting it doesn't usually get worse, even if it doesn't get better.
Pain that lasts more than three months is considered chronic. Sometimes patients have acute flare-ups of their chronic pain. The symptoms get worse suddenly after any number of different triggers for each person.
If you notice the flareups occur less often, are shorter in duration, and recovery time is faster, then you may be seeing a gradual improvement. Many patients do experience full recovery, but no one seems able to predict who will have that response and who won't.Kien Trinh, MD, MSc, et al. Acupuncture for Neck Disorders. In Spine. January 15, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 2. Pp. 236-243.
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