Treatment for neck pain

There are various treatments for neck pain, we explore short- and long-term options.

How can you treat neck pain?

If this is the first time you have suffered with neck pain, it is most likely that you will recover over the next few weeks. Most neck pain problems get a lot better within three months. 

Thumbnail
Getting help for neck pain from a physiotherapist

Relief for next pain in the short term

If you want to speed your recovery from neck pain, then see a healthcare professional who can reassure you with a diagnosis, advise and educate you about some simple exercises to perform. They will also give you some strategies to prevent the neck pain from coming back.

Joint manipulation (’cracking the joints’) and joint mobilisation (‘stretching the joints’) may help with pain relief whilst you are recovering.

The important points for recovery are:

  • remaining as active as the pain allows,
  • taking simple painkillers if needed, and
  • advice from a healthcare professional.

If simple painkillers and staying active are not helpful, then other treatments may be recommended. If you have an ongoing neck problem, say more than three months, then research suggests that the most effective treatment is exercise.

It is important to remember that the longer you have had neck pain, the less ‘hands on’ treatments are indicated. So ask your physiotherapist what it is you can do to help yourself, in terms of activities and exercise.

Regular exercise for neck pain

Exercise has been shown to be the most helpful treatment for on-going neck pain. In most cases, it doesn’t appear to matter what type of exercise you do, as long as you remain active. So choose something that you like to do it, and keep at it! If your neck pain is not improving, keeps returning or prevents you from doing the things you enjoy even though you are keeping active, then it may be useful to consult a physiotherapist to get more specific exercises for your neck and / or upper body.

See our Love Activity, Hate Exercise section for some ideas.