What Is The Best Therapy For Neck Pain?

By Ben Loomis – DSC_9441.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73875056

Neck pain or stiffness can happen for a variety of reasons.

Muscle tension and strain

This is usually due to activities and behaviors such as:

  • poor posture
  • working at a desk for too long without changing position
  • sleeping with your neck in a bad position
  • jerking your neck during exercise


Especially in falls, car crashes, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move beyond their usual range, the neck is particularly vulnerable to injury.

The spinal cord can also be damaged if the neck bones (cervical vertebrae) are broken. Neck injury is usually called whiplash due to sudden jerking of the head.

Heart attack

Neck pain may often be a sign of a heart attack, although other signs of a heart attack, such as a heart attack, also occur.:

  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • arm or jaw pain

Neck pain may also be a symptom of a heart attack, although other signs of a heart attack, such as a heart attack, also occur.


The inflammation of the thin tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord is meningitis. A fever and a headache sometimes occur with a sore neck in people who have meningitis. Meningitis is a medical emergency which can be fatal.

Other causes

Other causes include the following:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: It induces pain, joint swelling, and bone spurs. When these occur in the region of the neck, pain in the neck can result.
  • Osteoporosis: It weakens the bones and can result in tiny fractures. This disorder mostly occurs in the hands or knees, but can occur in the neck as well.
  • Fibromyalgia: It is a condition that, particularly in the neck and shoulder area, causes muscle pain throughout the body.
  • As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This is known as spondylosis, or osteoarthritis of the neck. This will make the gap between the vertebrae small. It brings tension to the joints as well.
  • It may add strain to the spinal cord or nerve roots when a disk protrudes, as from a wound or injury. This is called a herniated cervical disk, also known as a ruptured or slipped disk.
  • As the spinal column narrows, spinal stenosis occurs and induces pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots as it leaves the vertebrae. This may be attributed to arthritis or other disorders caused by long-term inflammation.

In rare instances, neck stiffness or pain occurs due to:

  • congenital abnormalities
  • infections
  • abscesses
  • tumors
  • cancer of the spine

How neck pain is treated

A physical exam will be done by your doctor and your full medical history will be taken. Be prepared to describe the specifics of your symptoms to your doctor. You should also let them know about all the drugs and supplements you have taken that are prescribed and over-the-counter ( OTC).

You should also let your doctor know about any recent injuries or incidents you’ve had, even though they do not seem connected.

Depending on the diagnosis, care for neck pain depends. You will also need one or more of the following imaging studies and tests, in addition to a detailed history and physical evaluation by your doctor, to help your doctor identify the cause of your neck pain:

  • blood tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • electromyography, which allows your doctor to check the health of your muscles and the nerves that control your muscles
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

Depending on the results, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. Treatment for neck pain may include:

  • ice and heat therapy
  • exercise, stretching, and physical therapy
  • pain medication
  • corticosteroid injections
  • muscle relaxants
  • neck collar
  • traction
  • antibiotics if you have an infection
  • hospital treatment if a condition such as meningitis or heart attack is the cause
  • surgery, which is rarely necessary

Alternative therapies include:

  • acupuncture
  • chiropractic treatment
  • massage
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Make sure you’re seeing a licensed professional when using these methods.

How to ease neck pain at home

If you have minor neck pain or stiffness, take these simple steps to relieve it:

  • For the first few days, add ice. Using heat with a heating pad, hot compress, or by taking a hot shower after that.
  • Take OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Take a few days off from sports, the symptom-aggravating habits, and heavy lifting. Do it slowly as you resume normal activity as the symptoms ease.
  • Each day, exercise your neck. In side-to – side and up-and – down movements, stretch your head slowly.
  • Using your stance well.
  • Stop cradling the phone between your shoulder and ear.
  • Change your stance regularly. Don’t stand or sit for too long in one position.
  • Get a gentle massage on the neck.
  • For sleeping, use a special neck pillow.
  • Without your doctor’s permission, don’t use a neck brace or collar. They will make the symptoms worse if you don’t use them properly.

Are You Looking for Relief From Neck Pain? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical neck pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Our highly experienced physical therapist will work with you to improve your function and relieve your pain. We start by assessing the body as a whole. Oftentimes the cause of pain or an injury extends far beyond just the body part or muscle hurting. Without taking a comprehensive look at your entire self, we would be doing you a disservice in fully helping you heal and preventing future limitations. We then move on to fixing your areas of limitation.  Not all diagnoses are created equal. One person with neck pain may have completely different limitations than the next person. Your recovery program needs to be specific to what YOUR body needs and not just the typical exercise program that you can find online. Just because your pain decreases or you can walk longer doesn’t mean that it is enough to get you functioning at the level you want to be. While this often signifies the end of care at your typical PT clinic we don’t stop providing guidance until we help you successfully meet every goal you set for yourself with us on day one. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!