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How you can ease neck pain yourself

Most neck pain or (Occipital Neuralgia) only lasts a few weeks. There are things you can do yourself to ease it, but see a GP if it does not go away.

How you can ease neck pain yourself

How you can ease neck pain yourself:

What should you do:

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen – or use ibuprofen gel on your neck
  • use a low, firm pillow
  • put heat or cold packs on your neck
  • try neck flexibility exercises

What should you don't:

  • do not wear a neck collar – it's better to keep your neck moving (unless a doctor tells you not to)
  • do not do anything that could be dangerous because you cannot move your neck – for example, driving or cycling

Consult a doctor if:

  • neck pain or stiffness does not go away after a few weeks
  • painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen have not worked
  • you're worried about the pain
  • you have other symptoms, like pins and needles or a cold arm – this could be something more serious

What can cause neck pain:

The most common causes of neck pain are:

  • the neck becoming locked in an awkward position while sleeping
  • bad posture – for example, when sitting at a desk for a long time
  • a pinched nerve
  • an injury – for example, whiplash from a traffic accident or fall

How you can prevent neck pain

What should you do:

  • when sleeping, make sure your head is the same height as the rest of your body
  • have a firm mattress
  • sit upright – roll your shoulders back gently and bring your neck back

What should you don’t:

  • do not keep your neck in the same position for a long time – for example, when sitting at a desk
  • do not sleep on your front
  • do not twist your neck when you're in bed

Self-refer for treatment:

If you have neck pain, you might be able to refer yourself directly to services for help with your condition without seeing a GP.

To find out if there are any services in your area:

  • ask the reception staff at your GP surgery
  • check your GP surgery's website
  • contact your integrated care board (ICB) – find your local ICB
  • search online for NHS treatment for neck pain near you