30 answers

5 Year Old Woke up with Neck/head Pain

One of my 5 year old girls woke up this morning complaining about the left side of her neck hurting. We chucked it up to sleeping on it wrong, gave her some tylenol and sent her to school. The school told me that she had been complaining about it throughout the day. She played fine even turning her head from side to side, but when it came time to get up and move around she could barely do it. I got her home and started asking her questions. I believe I have located the pain to the left side of the back of her head. Behind her ear, across the lower back of her head and down the left side of her neck. She has never had an ear infection(that is her twin sisters job:)) I gave her some ibuprofen to help any inflamation that there may be and gave her an ice pack. She is still occasionally telling me it hurts. I looked up the symptoms on WEBMD and anything associated with the neck it says to take them immediatly to the ER. My dilemma is am I going to rush her out there and they tell me she just pulled a muscle sleeping on it? Do I give her until tomorrow to see if it goes away? She has Asperger's so sometimes it is hard to get out of her exactly what or where the problem is. Plus if I take her to the ER she will not speak at all and I don't have much to go on. My partner wants to rush her in but I just don't know if that is just panicking. Any advise would be wonderful.
Thank you,
S.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you all for the great responses. We don't have a ped dr on call here. Our only option is the ER and they are as slow as molasses unless you are bleeding. We have taken them both to the ER quiet a few times in the past (everything happens when the Dr office is closed) and on average it is about a 4 hour wait to even see the Dr. We monitored her through the night with no fever, redness or swelling and when she woke up she has not really said a word. She is back to jumping on the trampoline in the living room and standing on her head. I am not one to over react or get excited easily which is why I posted this. Thank you again for all the advise and the support!!
S.

Featured Answers

Hi S.,

I have 5 children and if one of mine woke up complaining about pain, I would probably give them tylenol and wait and see how they are later. If this has gone on for 2-3 days, then I wouldn't rush them to the ER but I would take them to the family doctor. Since this is not a "well child" visit then the doctor would probably get you in the same day you call. (mine does anyway).
Good luck,

J. J.

Hi S.,
Try a chiropractor. My son had a neck pain too, ended up from playing playstation a bit too long in the wrong position. The chiro straighted him back up after a few visits.
If you don't have one in mind, I recommend Balance Family Chiro in Bartlett. Really nice facility with toys for the kids to play with and a great family doctor. :)

S.,

Take her to the ER immediately. Ok, so she won't say much but you have enough to go on to tell the doctor where the pain is and what the pain is. You don't want to put it to the side. Don't think of it as panicking, think of it as being taking caution. When it comes to children, you can't be too careful.
Q.

More Answers

It is best to call pediatrician. You may need to bring her for an office visit, better to not take any chances.

I suggest getting medical attention. Neck pain, especially, is nothing to fool around with as meningitis acts so quickly. In addition, a spinal injury could have awful implications. Going to the ER is a small price compared with what the possibilities could be.

J.

Hello.

It appears that you are feeling a conflict between taking your daughter to see a doctor and not. Web MD has told you that her condition could be serious, yet you aren't sure.

Is your only choice an ER or do you have a pediatrician to call?

My advice is on the conservative side. And consists of two pieces of information.

First, if it were me, I would rather be assured by an MD that the symptoms are not serious, instead of later discovering that I didn't prevent something awful from happening.

Second, I would get a pediatrician immediately, so that when things such as this happen in the future, I could simply make a phone call, rather than get all flustered and have to use an ER.

R. Katz, Psy.D.
www.richardkatz.org

Definitely take her in since it sounds like it has not improved substantially. There are scary things that neck pain/stiffness can be a symptom of, and it's better to be safe than sorry. I pray she recovers and that she'll be fine, despite the ER trip!

I would make an appointment with the regular pediatrician. You didn't mention a fever, which really would have been a red flag with the head and neck pain. She could even be getting her molars.

get her to the pedatrician you dont have to go straight to the er

Dear S.,

Please get her to a doctor immediately and stop giving medicationsor other treatments- you don't know what she may have as a diagnosis; she does not need to relay information-
she will be examined for clues

It is NOT panicking when the head and neck are involved-
Let the medical team diagnose her, so they can treat her-

I hope that it is nothing, but let an MD tell you that-

L. P.

S., I encourage you not ignore those tugs in your heart saying, "there has got to be a better way."

The big question of the day, who to trust with the health of your family. Everyone has different needs, comfort level, desires, and understanding when it comes to everything in life, and that includes health care.

As an alert mom myself, I trust our family care to Dr. Fred Ratio in Plainfield 1-###-###-####. He truly cares for his patients and I guarantee he will take the time to either help you or at the very least guide you to who can help.

Personally, I have referred my doctor to many people who have thanked me over and over for the referral. He is truly a gifted man. It's worth the call.

You don't know what you don't know. Good luck.

My hope is that things are resolved now ... but as a child, 5 and up, there were a handful of times that I slept on my neck wrong, could not move it, and ended up at the doctor's office. At that time we were with a D.O. and he did a chiropractic adjustment.
I remember so clearly, not being able to turn my neck or wanting to move, and then he would "snap" and all would be well again.
That COULD be the case for you - hope all works out well.

A local pediatric chiropractor would be able to examine your child to see if it is a muscle issue or something more serious. If it is more serious, they will refer you to your MD or the ER. If it is musculo-skeletal (sleeping wrong) they will be able to help her with this. Check out www.icpa4kids.org to find a local doctor, they also have information how chiropractic has helped in children with ADD/ADHD. Feel free send me a message and I will give you the office number if you have questions.
www.flowchiropractic.com

S.,
What are you waiting for? You don't have to go to the ER, take her to the pediatrician now!!! Better to be safe than sorry.

As a nurse, I always try not to go overboard, but I've learned as a mom to call the doctor first. They can let you know if the thing to do is rush to the ER, or come to the office, or what things to look for to indicate her needing to be seen.
Good luck! By the way: High fever, and stiffness of the neck (touching chin to chest) - are big red flags for meningitis- still best to call your pediatrician 1st so they can let the ER know you're coming.
So - call your doc with any questions, so you don't worry.
C.

As a nurse would strongly recommed a visit to your pediatrician it may be just that she slept funny or it coud be something else and you would kick yourself if it is something that needs treatment,giving tylenol,motrin and such just masks what could be a problem we as humans are way to quick to reach for a chemical to make us and our family feel better,myself included, when maybe its the wrong thing to do,please go see your doctor if its nothing youmay have a bill but at least you can rest knowing all is well,I do home care,my pts are all kids some born with thier challanges some became ill along the way and I always hear from my parents of these kids ''if only i had.......''
H.

S.,

Take her to the ER immediately. Ok, so she won't say much but you have enough to go on to tell the doctor where the pain is and what the pain is. You don't want to put it to the side. Don't think of it as panicking, think of it as being taking caution. When it comes to children, you can't be too careful.
Q.

I'd call her doctor. If it's something bad you don't want to wait. If you do decide to go the chiropractor route, Dr Bowers in Downers Grove is great ###-###-####. But get her somewhere today for a diagnosis, don't wait for an apt with him in a couple days. Anew patient apt with him could take a couple days to get in if he's booked.

S., you really should bring both girls to a chiropractor that specializes in children. It will fix your little girls neck pain really quick provided nothing more serious than muscle tightness and pinched nerve is going on. And, a chiropractor is very educated in knowing what is wrong with ones neck. Plus, chiropractic can also help your girls with the autism/Aspergers and ADD/ADHD. The reason it helps with those is because it helps maximize the functioning of their little nervous systems and brain. It helps per say turn on some of the light switches in the brain that may not be on and thus helps your children act and perform on a more "normal" level. Check out this website, it will tell you a lot of good info and help you find a chiro for kids in your area. icpa4kids.com

I always call our pediatrician when I have a question like yours. I do know the symptoms always ssm to get worse when the doctor's office is closed. The doctor on call would be able to help you sort out your daughter's symptoms and perhaps save you a trip to the ER, or send you there, if needed, to rule out anything serious. Good luck.

Ear problems can give you neck aches. But sleeping wrong can really do a number on your neck or sleeping in a draft. Or if you sweat during the night and there is a slight draft can give you a neck aches for a day or two.
You could try Blue Goo with Emu Oil on her neck.
Or just give her a message. But I would get her ear checked if it doesn't go away. I purchased a scope to check my sons ears at home when he was having ear problems.

S.

At the very least you should call you pediatrician. Neck pain is nothing to mess with, a friend of ours had a child land in the hospital with viral meningitis...neck stiffness/pain is one of the symptoms. Best of luck, and here's hoping and praying that it IS just a pulled muscle!

My daughter had neck pain a few weeks ago, too. She was complaining of a stiff neck on her left side, and was acting like it really hurt, so I took her to the doctor. The doctor said her nodes were swollen, and even though she had NONE of the "usual" symptoms, she was given a throat culture which came back positive for strep throat! I was shocked! I hope your daughter feels better soon, but if she complains again, I might get her checked for strep.

~M.

I am a RN and wonder if she had been running a temperature? Sometimes a stiff neck can be a symptom of meningitis. That would be worse case scenario. Is she able to put her chin to her chest? It wouldn't hurt to bring her in, but rather than a long visit in the ER, can you take her to her pediatrician to start as they may be able to treat her there?

I could very well be an ear infection or just sleeping on it wrong, rememeber even as adults when we get a stiff neck it lasts all day sometimes two. But I agree with the other moms if the child is still complaining the next day schedule a doctors appt.

Take her to the doctor. When my son was 7 he had similar pains in his neck and we took him to the doctor and the doctor told us to go immediately to the Emergency, most doctor do not play around with neck pain especially in young children. My son was give a spinal tap and it turned out not to be any thing serious, but he did spend 2 days in the hospital to monitor him.
GO TO THE EMERGENCY!

Hi my daughter had same problem but she had a fever and I was worried about meningitis I took her to the ER but since she could move and lift head they weren't concerned at all it seems that when their little lymph nodes are swollen this can cause neck pain and she did have the flu maybe your child is experiencing the same thing but if you are worried go with your gut and take her to the doctor- also a hot water bottle helped ease my daughter's pain Good Luck!!

I would call your regular dr. My daughter woke up with head pain the other day stating it hurt when she looked down or moved her head. The pain was in the back of her head. Come to find out she was getting a terrible sinus infection. My head gets pains when i am getting one too.

Hi S.,
Try a chiropractor. My son had a neck pain too, ended up from playing playstation a bit too long in the wrong position. The chiro straighted him back up after a few visits.
If you don't have one in mind, I recommend Balance Family Chiro in Bartlett. Really nice facility with toys for the kids to play with and a great family doctor. :)

That happened to my daughter when she was 4. She woke up screaming that her head hurt. I was so scared that I called my husband to meet me at the doctor right away. They sent us to get x-rays and as we were on our way, she said it wasn't so bad anymore. It turned out that she had slept on it wrong but she was my 1st and I was worried. We were comforted to know that nothing was wrong. If she is still complaining that it hurts, you might want to go just in case and for peace of mind.

Hi S.,

I have 5 children and if one of mine woke up complaining about pain, I would probably give them tylenol and wait and see how they are later. If this has gone on for 2-3 days, then I wouldn't rush them to the ER but I would take them to the family doctor. Since this is not a "well child" visit then the doctor would probably get you in the same day you call. (mine does anyway).
Good luck,

J. J.

Hi,
My 5 year old daughter had the same thing happen 2 weeks ago. She could barely sit up. We almost called an ambulance because she was in so much pain. We gave her some tylenol and time, and by the end of the day she was better.....If you are concerned call the DR. Better safe then sorry.
Take Care,
K.

You should definetly call the doctor. The concern here is that it could possible be menengitis, but more likely it is something called tortacollis...a common condition which is basically a fancy term for stiff neck. Good Luck and home your little one feels better soon :)

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