The type of treatment you need
will depend on whether your neck pain is caused by activities, an injury, or
another medical condition. Most neck pain caused by activities can be treated
For neck pain that occurs suddenly:
- Use a heating pad on a low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Try a warm shower in place of one session with the heating pad. You can also buy single-use heat wraps that last up to 8 hours. Or you can try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. There is not strong evidence that either heat or ice will help. But you can try them to see if they help.
acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Ibuprofen or another
anti-inflammatory medicine can also help relieve
- Avoid more injury to your neck by changing activities and
habits, such as how you sit or sleep.
- Try exercises or manual therapy to help you move your head
and neck more easily. See a physical therapist, chiropractor, or osteopathic doctor for this type of care.
To treat chronic neck pain, your doctor may prescribe
medicine to relax your neck muscles. Or you may get medicines to relieve pain
and help you sleep. You might also try massage or yoga to relieve neck
Surgery is rarely done to treat neck pain. But it may be
done if your pain is caused by a medical problem, such as pressure on the
spinal nerve roots, a tumor, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
You can avoid neck pain
caused by stress or muscle strain with some new habits. Avoid spending a lot of
time in positions that stress your neck. This can include sitting at a computer
for a long time.
If your neck pain is worse at the end of the
day, think about how you sit during the day. Sit straight in your chair with
your feet flat on the floor. Take short breaks several times an hour.
If your neck pain is worse in the morning, check your pillow and the
position you sleep in. Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight. Avoid
sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted or bent.