Most neck pain is caused by activities that involve repeated or prolonged movements of the neck. Nonsurgical treatment works well on this type of pain. Most cases of neck pain caused by activities get better in 4 to 6 weeks.1
Acute (short-term) neck pain
Home treatment includes applying heat or ice, taking it easy but staying as active as you can, and using over-the-counter pain relievers.
For severe pain or muscle spasm, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicines.
Manual therapy, including massage, mobilization, and manipulation, can help some neck pain. See a physical therapist, chiropractor, or osteopathic doctor for this type of care and to learn stretching and strengthening exercises that you can do at home.
Your doctor may recommend that you wear a cervical collar to support your neck . Cervical collars may reduce neck pain, but they should only be used for a day or two.
Chronic (long-term) neck pain
For long-lasting neck pain, you can use the same pain-relief measures used for acute pain. For more information, see Home Treatment.
Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants.
People who have chronic pain syndrome and its associated problems, such as depression or drug dependence, may respond to treatment more slowly. Counseling along with medical treatment may help in recovery.
Surgery is rarely required for neck pain. It may be an option when neck pain is caused by certain conditions.