A Pain in the Neck

Neck pain is often caused by poor posture, muscle tension or strain. Most of the time neck pain resolves by itself within a few days. But if neck pain continues or worsens, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Treat neck pain at home:

  • Apply an ice pack to your neck for 10-15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Use a heating pad for 10-15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours or take a warm shower.
  • Try over-the-counter pain relievers. Do not exceed the doses listed on the labels or take for more than 10 days.
  • Stretch your neck muscles by turning your neck gently from side to side and up and down. Exercises for Neck Pain.
  • Get a gentle neck massage (nonprescription creams or gels, such as Bengay, may provide pain relief).
  • Practice good posture, especially if your job includes lots of sitting.
  • Avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms, such as sports or heavy lifting.
  • Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight while you sleep.
  • When driving, wear your seatbelt.

See your doctor if you:

  • Feel weak or very sick
  • Have a fever and stiff neck (can’t touch your chin to your chest)
  • Have a headache and stiff neck
  • Have weakness in your arms or legs
  • Have numbness or tingling in your arms, upper back or legs
  • Lose control of your bladder or bowels
  • Have difficulty breathing

Call 911 or seek emergency services immediately if:

  • Your neck pain occurs with chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath and nausea.
  • Your neck pain is the result of an accident, fall or a blow to your head.

Alternative treatments? Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care or yoga, may provide relief for neck pain. Talk to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.

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