Neck pain is a very common complaint. The neck does the work of holding the weight of your head, so it is very strong. When the neck is painful and cannot carry out its job of allowing you to move normally it can be very worrying, but it is very difficult to damage. Most neck problems do get better with time and some simple things to help it along.
How Can I Help Myself?
It is important to use your neck as normally as you can, although you might find that it helps to adjust what you do. The neck is no different to other joints in that it reacts well to movement and exercise. Exercise does not need to mean going to the gym, but anything where neck movement is needed.
It might help the pain or stiffness to apply some gentle heat (such as a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel). Giving your neck adequate support whilst you are resting can also help. For example, adjusting your pillows to what feels most comfortable for you while you sleep. You can also try taking pain relief medication.
What Exercise Can I Do?
It is safe and very helpful for your neck to do exercises even when it is sore as it will help to regain movement and the strength your neck needs to help you to recover. This is true even if your neck makes noises when you try to move. It is best not to avoid things that are difficult. Instead do as much as you are able at the time, progressing gradually.
There are some examples of exercises to do below. You can use our symptom tracker to check if what you are doing is helping you to improve.
Would an X-Ray or Scan Help?
X-rays and scans can help for a small number of people and in certain situations. However, most of the time it shows us things that are normal for the age of your neck and are not related to your pain. These sorts of findings will not help the neck get better. This is why your GP or clinician may say that it is not needed.
Should I Self-Refer?
Occasionally you may need some extra help to get your neck pain better.
If you feel you would like to talk to a healthcare professional to help you further with your back you can fill in a self referral form.