I hurt my neck the other week but I don't know how. One moment I was fine, the next, I was in agony. After waiting a day, I went to the emergency where they did some tests but couldn't find anything. My own doctor checked me a few days later but also didn't find anything. He said just to rest and take ibuprofen. How could they not find anything?
Neck pain is a common complaint and can be quite severe. In many cases, it's easy to see what has caused the injury, but there are also many cases where the cause is never found. These are called non-specific neck pain. The doctors aren't saying that the pain isn't there, just that they can't find a cause.
If you have not been injured and the doctors can't see anything on x-ray or imaging tests, like a mass, a fracture, or something that isn't quite right, then it's likely that it is non-specific neck pain that you have. Treatment for this type of pain often is a wait-and-see approach, with medications to help relieve the pain. If the pain doesn't go away, some doctors recommend physiotherapy or even spinal manipulation.
Jasper Mattijs Schellingerhout, et al. Which subgroups of patients with non-specific pain are more likely to benefit from spinal manipulation therapy, physiotherapy, or usual care? In Pain. October 2008. Vol. 139. No. 3. Pp. 670-680.
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