Neck Pain

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 15, 2021

Your neck supports your head. Consisting of seven vertebrae (bones) stacked on top of each other, the neck allows you to see upright and sideways. Neck muscles offer a specific range of mobility and support the neck's structures. 

Many factors, such as trauma, degenerative disease, and poor posture, can cause neck pain

Neck pain is also a symptom of ankylosing spondylitis. Other symptoms associated with neck pain are a decreased ability to move your head, headaches, and muscle spasms. 

Typically, neck pain resolves with time and at-home treatments, like resting and using a heat pack. However, if your pain is severe or lasts for many days, you should seek medical attention. Speak to your doctor if the pain has spread to your legs and arms or is accompanied by weakness and a headache. These symptoms could indicate a more serious problem. 

The Best Way to Manage Neck Pain

Some treatment methods for neck pain include traction, physical therapy, short-term immobilization, and steroid injections. Although it is rarely needed, surgery can also be used to treat neck pain and relieve a nerve root. 

Besides treatment, you can also make lifestyle changes to help manage neck pain.

  • Home exercises. You should not do strenuous exercises if your neck hurts too much. When the pain has decreased, do some gentle stretches. It is best to talk to a physical therapist and get them to make an exercise plan for you. 
  • Over-the-counter medications. Some over-the-counter painkillers can also reduce neck pain and discomfort. If you are already taking prescription medications for a severe illness, speak to your doctor about the safety of using over-the-counter painkillers. 
  • Heating pad. A typical home remedy for neck pain is a heating pad. Place it on the neck for a short period to relieve pain. 
  • Hot shower. You can also sit in a hot bath or take a warm shower to relieve neck pain. 

If you occasionally have neck pain, opt for regular massages. A massage therapist will manipulate your neck muscles with their hands. 

Although there is little scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of massages for long-term relief, they can make you feel better for the time being. Alternatively, you can get a chiropractic adjustment. 

In this procedure, a chiropractor will apply abrupt force to the joint on your neck. This treatment can provide short-term relief against pain. For most people, it has minimal risks. If you are uncertain, consult with your doctor beforehand. 

Show Sources

Better Health: "Neck pain."
BMJ: "FRI0441 Neck pain in ankylosing spondylitis: focus on active inflammation at the craniocervical junction on mri."
Mayo Clinic: "Neck pain."

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