Severity Of Current Neck Pain

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'critical'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose neck pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "neck pain" as a symptom.  Here are eight possibilities (more below):
  • Torticollis
  • Dehydration
  • A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Possible Urgent Medical Need

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
occasional unexplained fevers
Heberden's nodes
high systolic blood pressure
severe epigastric pain
recent onset neck pain
significant red blood in stools
infrequent daytime urination
significant right hypochondriac pain
chronic nausea
morning stiffness lasting hours
minor pain in cold/cool/damp weather
severe left iliac pain
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of neck pain:
Cause Probability Status
Torticollis 90% Confirm
Meningitis 26% Unlikely
Possible Urgent Medical Need 14% Unlikely
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 1% Ruled out
A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage 1% Ruled out
Dehydration 1% Ruled out
Encephalitis 0% Ruled out
Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate neck pain/stiffness, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
If you have neck pain, how severe is it?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ My neck is not painful
→ It is a minor problem
→ It is significant, but I can function
→ I am in extreme pain, unable to function
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate not having neck pain, slight neck pain, significant neck pain or severe neck pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
A Potentially Urgent Medical Need

Severe neck pain can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition, such as meningitis, encephalitis or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Torticollis (Loxia, "Wryneck")

Pain in the neck, back, or shoulder affects more than two-thirds of all people with torticollis.

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