Neck Pain


What is neck pain?

Neck pain and stiffness is common in people of all ages. 2 out of 3 of us will experience neck pain at some point.


Reasons for neck pain can include:

  • Poor sitting posture,

  • Static postures

  • Stress

  • Unusual activity e.g painting ceiling.

Serious neck conditions are rare. Neck pain is usually as a result of stiff joints or tight muscles which do not require an investigation e.g X-ray / scan.


The good news is, making simple changes to your daily activities can have a big impact on your neck pain.

Click the links below to find out more.

Common problems with the neck

Dealing with neck pain

Gentle exercise is good for the muscles and joints. Movement may be uncomfortable or sore, however it is still OK to move and exercise the neck. Click the link below for exercise advice. Over the counter medication may help reduce your pain - Speak to your GP or local pharmacist about this. You may not require a prescription for this. If you find that your neck pain is worse after being at work, you may require an assessment of your workstation i.e computer postion or suitble chair. Ask your employer about this. Most neck pain will settle with gentle exercise within 2-3 weeks. If your neck pain doesn’t settle you may need some further help and advice from a health professional.

Muscle spasm

Muscle spasm is sustained and painful contraction of neck muscles. This can make the neck feel sore and tight. You may have a "stiff" neck or headaches as a result of this.

Muscle spasm can be caused by stress, injury, poor posture or overuse.

Relaxation and exercises can help ease the spasm / tension in the muscles. You can also try applying gentle heat such as a wheat bag or electric pad to the neck and shoulders to help relax the muscles. Click here to download an information sheet about heat therapy.

Numbess, tingling or pins and needles

Problems with the neck can cause pressure on the nerves and therefore numbness or pins and needles. Nerve pain can sometimes radiate pain into your arm and hand. If this pain is severe or you feel weakness of arm/hand seek help from your GP.

Try to avoid activity that increases the numbnes or pins and needles. If these symptons happen at night, try altering your sleeping position or pillow height.

If the pins and needles are only in your hand, you may benefit from wearing a wrist splint. Speak to a health professional about this.

Cervical Spondylosis / Neck Arthritis

This is age-related wear and tear in the neck. These changes are similar to those seen in osteoarthritis and take many years to develop. It is normally to have some stiffness, however you can help improve the problem by:

  • Keep moving and maintain good posture

  • Exercise your neck to stretch tight muscles and move stiff joints

  • Painkillers can help to reduce your muscle pain. Speak to your local pharmacist about this.

  • Using warmth / heat i.e wheat bag or electric pad. (Click here for further infomation)

When should I seek urgent help?

Usually rare, but sometimes the nerves in the neck can become overly irritated. You should seek medical help if:

  • Unexplained arm weakness in one or both arms or even legs.

  • Weakness, pins & needles or numbness into the legs or arms.

  • Finding it difficult for you to use your hands for tasks such as picking up coins, buttoning a shirt or gripping

  • Experiencing a loss of balance or co-ordination when walking.

  • Decreasing control of your bladder and bowels. Including difficulty starting the flow of urine or fully emptying the bladder

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Dizziness, vomiting or blackout associated with neck movements

Click the links to find out more.

Avoiding Neck pain

posture on a desk
Using the phone posture