Neck pain is a common complaint and there is usually no clear cause. For example, you may suffer from tension, overload, an incorrect posture, or you may have made a wrong movement. Underlying complaints like stiff muscles, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or a neck hernia could also be the cause of your neck pain.
The pain will go away on its own in most cases. We refer to it as chronic neck pain if it lasts for more than six months.
Neck pain can result in various different symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- A nagging or severe pain in your neck.
- Stiffness of your neck muscles. This will make it more difficult for you to turn your neck.
- A radiating pain in your shoulders, head and/or arms. If the pain radiates to your arm, this can also cause loss of strength and/or tingling in your hands. You may also not be able to move your arm properly.
These complaints can limit your daily activities or your freedom of movement.
It’s important for you to keep moving as much as possible and continue with your usual daily activities. The pain you’re feeling will not be dangerous in most cases and will not do you any harm. We recommend carefully doing the following exercises in order to promote the movement of your neck:
- Move your head forward and back.
- Look back over your shoulder. Do this over both your left and right shoulders.
- Move your right ear toward your right shoulder and do the same exercise on your left too.
Repeat these exercises ten times in one session and schedule two sessions in a day.
We also recommend listening to the following advice:
- Give your neck plenty of rest if you really can’t move.
- Make sure you have enough relaxation time and try to reduce your stress. Consider organising your time differently or talking about the things you stress about with someone you trust.
- Investigate whether your complaints are related to your work or work environment. There may be some adjustments which can be made to your work or to the environment. Examples of this are a properly adjusted desk and chair, or a different division of your tasks.
- Warm your neck by applying heat cream or by taking a warm shower.
Most of the time, your neck pain will go away on its own. You should contact your GP immediately if you suddenly develop neck pain and this is accompanied by:
- Confusion or drowsiness.
- A fever.
- A severe headache.
- A purple-red skin rash.
These are symptoms of meningitis and can have serious consequences if not treated in time.
We also advise you to call your GP if:
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You can hardly, or not at all, move your neck after four weeks.
- Your pain radiates to your arm or head.
- You hardly have any strength or feeling in your arm or hand.
If you suffer from stiff neck muscles, it may help to seek treatment from a manual therapist or physiotherapist. They will draw up a plan with you and give you exercises which can reduce your symptoms.