Neck pain is most often caused by repeated or prolonged movements to the neck's muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, or joints. 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 more information, see Home Treatment.
For severe pain or muscle spasm, your doctor may
prescribe stronger medicines. For more information, see Medications.
A review of studies shows that
manual therapy, used either separately or together,
are likely to help nonspecific neck
pain.2 (Pain is "nonspecific" when its cause isn't clear.) Manual therapy is done by a trained practitioner, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. It involves slow
twisting, pulling, or pushing movements known as "mobilization." Rapid, forceful movements, which are
known as "manipulation," should not be used. Talk to your doctor before trying manual
Your doctor may recommend that you
cervical collar to support your neck. Cervical collars
may reduce neck pain, but they should only be used for a day or two. See a
picture of a
cervical collar .
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,
depression or drug dependence, may respond to
treatment more slowly. Counseling along with medical treatment may help in
rarely required for neck pain. It may be an option when neck pain is caused
by certain conditions. For more information, see Surgery.