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When should I go to the doctor after a neck injury?

Many of us don't like going to the doctor's office for every little ache and pain. Visits can be expensive, even with insurance, and we don't like spending money to be told to take an over-the-counter medication and go home.

If you are in a car accident or experience an impact injury, your little aches and pains could be more easily defined - particularly if it's in your neck. Whiplash often occurs after a rear-end car accident, sports injury or other impact injury. It can take a few months to recover with medication and exercise, or it can turn into a chronic problem.

Whiplash doesn't present itself immediately - often it takes 24 hours or more to appear. This may cause you to think the pain in your neck and the accident or injury are unrelated. In most cases, this is not true.

If you experience any neck pain after an injury, the Mayo Clinic recommends you see a doctor as soon as possible. Typically with neck pain, the clinic recommends self care such as ice or heat, stretching, massage or practicing good posture before seeking a doctor. Whiplash, however, is a more serious condition that necessitates immediate care.

When you see a doctor, they will likely ask you several questions about the pain and what you've tried to treat it. Mention your accident or injury and on what date it occurred when you make the appointment or at the beginning of the appointment.

Your doctor will conduct further tests as necessary, recommend over-the-counter or prescription drugs and give you self-care tips for when you are at home. Before you leave, ask your doctor how often you should see them after the first visit if pain gets worse or doesn't get better. Neck pain after an accident or injury should be taken seriously and treated sooner rather than later.

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