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



22 thoughts on “My Neck Hurts…What Do I Do?”

  1. A lot of my neck pain is from my back curvature but my sleeping patterns are probably a second big cause. I have yet to find a pillow that is comfortable for more than two weeks.

  2. I have a tendency to sleep very bad and wake up with a crook in my neck often. I have been stretching my neck and using hot water on it and I have noticed a difference in the pain that I usually have. I have also taken extra care to change how I sleep so that the occurance of the crook in my neck doesn’t happen as often.

  3. I would have to agree that standing underneath a hot shower with the water on your neck, is very effective. I also think that a few visits to an massage therapist also can do the trick. Some medications help but only help for a few minutes and the pain is back. In some cases I have known that the pinched nerve that is possibly causing this tension and or pain can only be resolved with surgery,

  4. Great job Mauri! This is a great blog to share with clients for a quick read that could really help our clients!

  5. Good article! I have had a lot less neck pain since I figured out a good position for my neck when I sleep.

  6. since I have change my sleeping from left to right side I was feel numbness and tingling. I do , do stretch with my neck while drive. that is when I seem to have the most discomfort. I have started also wearing a neck brace which helps alot.

  7. Does anyone sleep properly? I have to agree with Latasha, I have a tendency to sleep inproperly. I am a belly sleeper and i rarely ever use a pillow so you can imagine the pain i wake up with but it is so comfy when i fall asleep and no matter how i fall asleep this is how i wake up. I have tried the biofreeze and i love it. Along with the hot shower hitting my neck. I am not a real big fan of ice even though i know it helps.

  8. we did a lot of neck work this week and i love it. everyone needs a good neck massage, and icy hot is the best thing ever invented. ever.

  9. Sleeping on the right position is almost impossible. I try to change my pillow more often. Stretching is what works for me. I don’t get out of bed before stretching and after I get out, I won’t take another step forward without stretching first. It works wonderfully. The ice pack is not that comfortable, I agree with Melanie on that. But the hot shower is the trick. I love the hot water on my neck and shoulder while I do some stretching. I’m trying to be the last one to take showers in my house. Fair enough.
    I might have two comments. I don’t know what happened with my first one.

  10. I love all the neck techniques. I want to try them on myself and others because neck pain is so common. I’ve yet to try icy hot or any other product of that affect but it sounds like I should.

  11. Most of my neck pain is caused from a previous injury. My biggest fear in life has been to need surgery on my back or neck. So I am always up for stretching, ice, and heat to relieve any issues I am having that day. Learning about massage has also been a wonderful help as well.

  12. I know my neck pain is also caused from the way I sleep and my posture. I am a belly sleeper and if one of the kids has taken my pillow, I am sure to wake up in pain. I make sure I have the correct pillow and try to sleep more on my side rather than belly. I love hot showers so this helps as well.

  13. These are really good techniques to helping neck pain. I personally like the one in the shower. Its easy to do and most effective because you are already in the shower and you move your neck to wash your body and rinse off, so hold a stretch for thirty seconds and your neck will feel so much better. Thanks Mauri and Ross.

  14. I have alot of neck pain and its due to bad posture doing hair the last 10 years. I just bought this new water pillow from my chiropractor and i must say its amazing! i am a side sleeper usually in fetal position.

  15. Dang, who are these writers!? Best blog I have ever read =] just kidding! I actually had a stiff neck before I wrote my section of this blog. To help treat my stiff neck I took a hot shower while doing neck stretches, did an ice treatment, used an Icy Hot patch, and performed stretches for 30 seconds numerous times throughout my day. Doing all of these techniques helped me get a lot of relief and a better range of motion.

  16. I’m a singer and i tend to head bang like crazy on stage and i feel it the next day.Whenever I’m stressed it tends to show in my neck too. I will definitely take this info and i will share it with my fellow singers so we won’t be stiff singers

  17. Last weeks blogs helped me take a look at how i have been treating my body so now I pay closer attention to how i am sitting or how i am laying at night. Being more mindful of my posture and working to break my bad habits has really improved some of my pains up and down my spine.

  18. My neck has been hurting a lot lately, and I wasn’t surprised to see that a cause of this is from doing homework! Finals are coming, so I’m scrambling trying to finish all my projects and papers. I think that a chiropractor would be able to help a lot with my issue, so I am going to look for one in my area. Maybe he can give me more tips on how to avoid having such a stiff neck.

  19. This is really a healthy and effective options for neck pain. My mother is suffering from lower back pain since many days and this info helps me a lot to understand the reason & finding solutions for it. Thanks for sharing.

  20. It’s interesting to know that activities like studying, homework, or strenuous exercise can be the cause of neck pain. My brother has been dealing with neck pain lately, and we are looking for advice to help him. I will let him read your article to help him ease his neck pain.