Guidelines for the treatment of neck pain

Guidelines for the treatment of neck pain


Neck pain can primarily originate from any of the structures of the neck, including muscles, nerves and spinal vertebrae. It might also come from regions near the neck, such as the shoulder, jaw, head and upper arms.

The Treatment Plan

The treatment plan for neck pain is devised in accordance with the severity of pain and discomfort.

In addition, the main causative actors of the neck pain go a long way in determining the treatment modalities to be adopted. For instance, in cases where there is an acute and sudden onset of neck pain due to a trauma, car accident or a fall, the first step usually advised will be the use of a collar, ice treatment or the first 72 hours and bed rest for at least 24 hours.

In the further sections, we briefly outline the various treatment options involved in providing relief from neck pain.


A series of over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for gaining relief from neck pain.

There are two types of over-the-counter medications that are generally administered. These include acetaminophen and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Both of these medications have different working principles and hence, can be taken simultaneously.

Prescription medicines are generally administered for shorter durations and include the likes of narcotic pain medications and muscle relaxants. Other drugs that are usually prescribed include antidepressants and anti-seizure medications.

In severe cases, epidural steroid injections are also administered for neck pain. This is especially helpful in cases where neck pain radiates into shoulders or arms or sensations of tingling or numbness are felt.


Physical therapy is generally considered as a treatment option when the pain has persisted beyond 1-2 weeks, inspite of medical supervision. It is indeed a viable option if the patient has experienced multiple episodes of pain over the past one year.

The most crucial set of exercises advisable for physiotherapy include:

Side stretches Chin tuck Turning

Physiotherapy is especially useful in the patients who develop neck pain because of weak neck muscles, as a good exercise regimen can actually strengthen the neck muscles.

Self Care

In addition to the above medical treatment options, there are a vast series of home care measures that should be adopted for treating neck pain. Here we list the most important measures of self-care for the purpose.

Ice therapy, in which ice packs should be applied for 15-20 minutes, at least three or four times a day. Heat pads should be applied for 15-20 minutes, two to three times a day Using a cervical pillow is often helpful. An as option, a feather pillow can also be used with a small towel toll tucked in Use a collar, especially if the neck pain has resulted due to an accident or severe injury Avoid soft couches and twisting positions Take bed rest

In addition, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment are two alternative modes of treatment which are quite effective for gaining relief from neck pain.

Surgical intervention is sought only in cases where the neck pain has failed to respond to all forms of treatment and begins to interfere with normal daily activities of the patient.