My Neck Hurts…What Do I Do?

By Mauri McDonald & Ross Ashcraft

Neck pain is a very common complaint and there are many reasons for the cause of neck pain.  If the pain is severe, then you should seek medical treatment to get an accurate diagnosis for specific treatment.  Neck pain relief can be achieved by practicing proper posture, doing exercise, yoga, stretching, and by leading a healthy lifestyle.


Common reasons for neck pain are a pinched nerve and a stiff neck. A pinched nerve can cause a tingling sensation and can be caused by degeneration or bulging discs.  Injuries are also another common cause of neck pain.  Putting continuous strain on the neck will also cause pain.  Activities that cause neck pain are doing homework, studying, or having your neck bent for a long period of time, strenuous exercise can also be a factor to neck pain.

Treatment, if you think the muscle is your cause:

Many people describe their neck pain as “having a stiff neck.”  The muscle most common with a stiff neck is the levator scapula which connects the neck and shoulder.  A common complaint with stiff neck is not being able to turn your head from side to side.  Some causes for developing stiff neck are vigorous exercise, bad posture, and holding the phone between your head and neck. Here are some good techniques to help with this type of neck pain:

  • Stand underneath a hot shower with the water on your neck. Do stretches and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. You can repeat stretches.
  • During the day use ice on your neck. Cold therapy will help reduce inflammation and provide a numbing effect. Leave a cold pack on your neck for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Do neck stretches throughout the day. After performing stretches, let neck rest at least 30 minutes.
  • Pain relieving gels such as Icy Hot, BioFreeze, or Bengay.
  • Medicine for inflammation
  • Rest:   This helps let the inflammation subside.

Treatment, if you can’t track down your cause:

1) Using heat and ice treatments 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off.  2) Doing gentle stretches right before you go to sleep.  Hold these for at least 30 seconds.  Try adding a reminder to stretch next to your tooth brush or set an alarm on your smart phone.  Neck pain symptoms can last for a couple of days and the treatment needs to address both the pain and the stiffness to be effective.  These two simple techniques should help the neck muscles to loosen while giving  you relief and better range of motion.


Treatments for neck pain will vary based on the cause.  Sometimes the easiest solution to neck pain is changing your sleeping habits.  However, neck pain can be the cause of something more serious.  If you experience the following then you should seek medical assistance:

  • Shooting pain into your arm or into your shoulder
  • Numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands
  • Change in bladder or bowel movements
  • Inability to touch your chin to your chest



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