Neck pain can take many forms, from dull muscle aches to sharp pain brought on by a serious condition like a herniated disc. Regardless of the cause, neck pain is more than just an inconvenience. For many, it’s a chronic problem that makes it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle.

When does neck pain warrant a trip to the doctor? Here are some red flags to look out for.

Your Symptoms Mimic a Heart Attack

When other serious symptoms tag along with neck pain, it might be wise to see a professional. According to the American Heart Association, be mindful of coexisting chest pain, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath, or discomfort in the jaw, back, arm or shoulder. These could be signs of a heart attack.

You Were Recently Injured

Injuries don’t always lead to immediate symptoms. If you’ve been in a car accident or sustained a sports-related contact injury, for instance, it may take days before neck pain rears its ugly head. Whiplash is a great example. Neck stiffness, blurred vision, dizziness and headaches could very well show up after the fact. Seeing a professional can make all the difference when it comes to healing. At Health Star Clinic, we approach whiplash with everything from chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy to spinal decompression and medical injections.

Signs of an Underlying Condition

Sometimes neck pain can be traced back to an underlying health problem. For example, a herniated disc, also called a bulging disc, typically causes pain and/or tingling on one side of the body. According to Healthline, a gel-filled disc can be found in between each vertebrae of the spine. When damaged, it can bulge and cause serious pain. The good news is that non-surgical treatments like physical therapy can sometimes make all the difference.

You’re Feverish

If stiffness best describes your neck pain, stay on the lookout for other symptoms; it could signal something more serious. Fever, vomiting, severe headache and rash—when presenting alongside neck pain—are all warning signs of meningitis.

Your Neck Pain Isn’t Getting Better

Unfortunately, most of us have experienced a sore neck after sleeping in a funny position or staring at a computer for too long. The good news is that simple home remedies like stretching, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and/or applying heat or ice can go a long way in relieving this type of muscle pain. But if pain doesn’t go away on its own, it may be time to get expert advice.

Health Star Clinic has you covered with the latest diagnostic tools and an experienced professional team that ranges from medical doctors and nurses to chiropractors and physical therapists. At war with neck pain? Here’s how to take back your life.