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Neck pain treatments

If you have [neck pain](neck-pain), you can do a number of things to help manage the condition.
  • You should try to carry on with your usual activities to keep your neck muscles moving and supple.
  • Hold an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on your neck for 15-20 minutes three or more times a day.
  • Have a hot shower or a warm bath.
  • Exercise your neck muscles gently, as suggested below.
  • Have a massage.
  • Find out about the best pain relief medicines to treat your pain.
  • You may find some physical therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, massage of use.
  • Hold reading materials at eye level to avoid hunching over.
  • Ensure your working environment is adjusted to your needs. You may need a footstool to ensure your hips and knees are level. Ask for a telephone headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone to avoid bending your neck to one side constantly. You may also need to adjust the height of your computer screen to avoid stretching your neck.
  • Work on your posture – exercises such as those found in yoga or Pilates all work to improve your posture.
  • Try sleeping with one firm support pillow rather than softer pillows to avoid stretching your neck muscles.

Neck supports (braces and collars) are not generally recommended, unless your healthcare professional has advised you to wear one.

Avoid activities such as lifting, pulling, punching, and repetitive bending and twisting for a few days as they can make your neck pain worse.

If you cannot fully move your neck left and right, you should not drive until you have regained full movement in your neck. If you can safely drive, adjust your headrest so that your head and neck are properly supported.

Neck exercises

There are some simple exercises you can do to help strengthen the muscles in your neck and keep your neck mobile.

Try gently nodding 15 times. Bring your chin down to your chest as far as is comfortable, and up towards the ceiling as far as is comfortable.

Turn your head slowly from left to right 15 times. You should only turn your head as far as feels comfortable.

Tilt your head as if you are trying to touch your left shoulder with your left ear, and the same for the right 15 times. Again, only tilt your head as far as is comfortable for you. Don’t move your shoulders up to meet your ears.

You should see a doctor if:

  • the pain is getting worse
  • the pain doesn’t ease up in a week or so
  • you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
  • you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel you have a fever as well as neck pain.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your neck pain treatments, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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