Pain - neck-self-care; Neck stiffness-self-care; Cervicalgia-self-care; Whiplash-self-care
You can use one or more of these methods to help reduce neck pain:
Ask your health care provider about using a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort.
Acupuncture also may help relieve neck pain.
To help relieve neck pain, you may have to reduce your activities. However, doctors do not recommend bed rest. You should try to stay as active as you can without making the pain worse.
These tips can help you stay active with neck pain.
After 2 to 3 weeks, slowly begin to exercise again. Your health care provider may refer you to a physical therapist. Your physical therapist can teach you which exercises are right for you and when to start.
You may need to stop or ease back on the following exercises during recovery, unless your doctor or physical therapist says it is OK:
As part of physical therapy, you may receive massage and stretching exercises along with exercises to strengthen your neck. Exercise can help you:
A complete exercise program should include:
Stretching and strengthening exercises are important in the long run. Keep in mind that starting these exercises too soon after an injury can make your pain worse. Strengthening the muscles in your upper back can ease the stress on your neck.
Your physical therapist can help you determine when to begin neck stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do them.
If you work at a computer or a desk most of the day:
Other measures to help prevent neck pain include:
For some, neck pain does not go away and becomes a long-lasting (chronic) problem.
Managing chronic pain means finding ways to make your pain tolerable so you can live your life.
Unwanted feelings, such as frustration, resentment, and stress, are often a result of chronic pain. These feelings and emotions can worsen your neck pain.
Ask your health care provider about prescribing medicines to help you manage your chronic pain. Some with ongoing neck pain take narcotics to control the pain. It is best if only one health care provider is prescribing your narcotic pain medicines.
If you have chronic neck pain, ask your health care provider about a referral to a:
Call your health care provider if:
Alexander EP. History, physical examination, and differential diagnosis of neck pain. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. Aug 2011;22(3):383-93, vii. PMID: 21824581
Cheng JS, McGirt MJ, Degin C. Neck pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al., eds. Kelly's Textbook of Rheumotology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 45.
Devereaux MW. Neck pain. Med Clin North Am. 2009;93:273-84. PMID: 19272509
Last reviewed on: 3/5/2015
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.