Duration Of Current Neck Pain

What Causes Painful Neck?

Painful neck 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 painful neck, 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 "painful neck" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Encephalitis
  • Cervical Arthritis
  • Meningitis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Torticollis
  • A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

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:
pain in cold/cool/damp weather
long term neck stiffness
fatigue after slight exertion
low lymphocyte count
severe rheumatoid arthritis
daily morning stiffness
major pain in cold/cool/damp weather
pitted nails
severe stiff neck
major joint pain/swelling/stiffness
severe neck pain
severe fatigue after slight exertion
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of painful neck:
Cause Probability Status
A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage 92% Confirm
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 23% Unlikely
Meningitis 23% Unlikely
Rheumatoid Arthritis 3% Ruled out
Encephalitis 3% Ruled out
Torticollis 0% Ruled out
Cervical 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, for how long have you had it?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know / not applicable
→ Over 1 year
→ 1 to 12 months
→ 1 week to 1 month
→ Less than 1 week
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either long term neck pain or recent onset neck pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
Full Explanations
Optional Doctor Review
Review (optional)
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