Questions about the event and your symptoms are the doctor's first step for making a diagnosis. You also may be asked to fill out a brief form that can help your doctor understand the frequency and severity of your symptoms, as well as your ability to do normal daily tasks.
During the exam your doctor will need to touch and move your head, neck and arms. He or she will also ask you to move and perform simple tasks. This examination helps your doctor determine:
- The range of motion in your neck and shoulders
- The degree of motion that causes pain or an increase in pain
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulders or back
- Reflexes, strength and sensation in your limbs
Your doctor will likely order one or more imaging tests to rule out other conditions that could be causing or contributing to neck pain. These include the following tests:
Jan. 20, 2015
- X-rays of the neck taken from multiple angles can identify fractures, dislocations or arthritis.
- Computerized tomography (CT) is a specialized X-ray technology that can produce multiple cross-sectional images of bone and reveal details of possible bone damage.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technology that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed 3-D images. In addition to bone injuries, MRI scans can detect some soft tissue injuries, such as damage to the spinal cord, disks or ligaments.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
- Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- NINDS whiplash information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/whiplash/whiplash.htm. Accessed Oct. 18, 2014.
- Bannister G, et al. Whiplash injury. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2009;91:845.
- Isaac Z, et al. Evaluation of the patient with neck pain and cervical spine disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 14, 2014.
- MacDermid JC, et al. Measurement properties of the neck disability index: A systematic review. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2009;39:400.
- Yadla S, et al. Whiplash: Diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2008;1:65.
- South-Paul JE, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookId=377. Accessed Oct. 22, 2014.
- Anderson BC, et al. Treatment of neck pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 14. 2014.
- Shekelle P, et al. Spinal manipulation in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. http://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.