How can I Relieve Neck Muscle Pain?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Just about everyone experiences neck muscle pain from time to time. For some people, the muscle aches and pains come about due to stress, sleeping in an awkward position, or poor posture. In other cases, the pain in the muscles of the neck is a symptom of something more serious. Fortunately, there are ways to obtain pain relief in any of these situations.

Taking a hot shower can help soothe neck muscle pain.
Taking a hot shower can help soothe neck muscle pain.

For people who suffer with occasional neck muscle pain, it is a good idea to check your posture. The pain may be due to slumping over a computer screen at work all day, or failing to hold your shoulders and neck correctly when you walk. Poor posture puts additional pressure on the muscles of the neck. Eliminate your pain by purchasing a discreet brace that will help you maintain good posture. Over time, your posture will become second nature and you will no longer need the brace. In the interim, you will find your bouts with muscle pain in your neck begin to come less frequently.

Improved posture, especially when sitting at a desk all day, should help relieve neck pain.
Improved posture, especially when sitting at a desk all day, should help relieve neck pain.

Dealing with minor neck muscle pain in the here and now can often be managed by using various methods to relieve stress and allow tight muscles to loosen up. Try taking a hot shower, allowing a steady stream of hot water to flow over your neck and shoulders. If you have a massage setting on the shower head, use it to gently bombard your sore neck and bring about some relief. A relaxing massage can also do wonders for tense neck muscles. If nothing else, try applying heat to the neck while you recline on the sofa. Deep heating rubs accompanied by hot cloths can often ease the pain in just a few minutes.

Rest and hydration may help athletes manage neck muscle pain.
Rest and hydration may help athletes manage neck muscle pain.

When there is an underlying health issue causing the neck muscle pain, the treatments often must be more aggressive. Obtain the services of a physical therapist and develop a series of stretching exercises that will ease the pain without causing any damage to your neck and shoulder muscles. The therapist may even recommend basic strength training exercises several times a week as part of the pain management regimen. Traction may also help to relieve pain for extended periods. There is also a good chance your doctor can recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication that will provide you with some relief from constant neck and back pain.

In situations that are especially dire, it may be necessary to undergo a surgical procedure in order to relieve neck muscle pain. This treatment option should only be considered if other less invasive methods have been explored in detail and are judged by your doctor to not be adequate for your condition. Physicians rarely recommend surgery unless there is some sort of compression on nerve roots that cannot be alleviated in any other manner.

If your neck muscle pain only occurs infrequently, it is probably not due to any long term health issue. However, if you find yourself enduring bouts of pain several times a week, make it a point to consult your doctor. A quick examination will determine if the origin of the neck muscle pain is due to factors you can control with relative ease or if the root cause is something requiring aggressive pain treatment methods. In either case, there is an excellent chance you can be free of the pain in a short period of time.

Neck pain can be temporarily relieved through the use of an ice pack.
Neck pain can be temporarily relieved through the use of an ice pack.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@orangey03 – The best of the neck pain remedies is a hot towel on the spot that hurts. You can find neck wraps that have been filled with rice or beans and sewn shut, or you can make one yourself.

I heat mine in the microwave until it is hot to the touch. Then, I wrap it around my neck and relax. I let the heat go deep into my muscles, and I feel so deeply relaxed as the towel cools and the heat goes into my body.

If I need more relief, I just reheat it and reapply it. It's so simple, but it's so effective.


Well, a hot shower sounds like it would be great for my neck and shoulder muscle pain! Unfortunately, I share a bathroom with three other people, and we have to conserve hot water, so no long showers for me. I've tried a heating pad, but it is awkwardly shaped and can't fit around my neck.


I used to take naproxen to relieve neck muscle strain and back pain. This was back before I knew that I shouldn't be taking NSAIDs, because I have a kidney condition.

If you can get away with taking naproxen every now and then, do it. It will melt your neck pain away, and you will feel so much more relaxed.


A coworker and I used to give each other neck massages in the middle of the day. It was the best neck pain relief ever!

We did the same sort of work, so we both had the same aches and pains. We knew exactly how to massage each other's necks because of this.

It can be hard to massage your own neck. Even enlisting the help of a willing spouse at the end of the day can help, though it won't do much to relieve you in the middle of your work day.


@ Framemaker- A few simple neck muscle exercises can help to alleviate strain when you are starting to feel your neck getting stiff. Slow rotations from side to side will stretch the sides of your neck. Simply look to one side of your body, keeping your chin parallel to the ground and hold for twenty seconds. Repeat on the other side.

To work the front and back of your neck you can touch your chin to your neck and hold for twenty seconds. Look up as high as you can and hold for twenty seconds to stretch the front of your neck. Repeat each exercise 5 times.


@ Submariner- I agree that acupuncture alleviates stress. I get treatments about twice a month, and sometimes I will go for a quick stress treatment when things get hectic. When things stress me out, I grind and clench my teeth. This often causes jaw pain, neck pain, and headaches. A half-hour session will usually clear my stress related ailments right up.


Acupuncture and acupressure can be beneficial for both neck and shoulder pain caused by whiplash and stress. Acupuncture and acupressure are most effective at treating whiplash when treatment is given as soon as possible. The therapies can help to repair the mechanical problems created by the trauma.

Stress increases sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system, causing your body to always be in a tense fight or flight state. Most people tend to hold their stress in the shoulders, tensing the muscles and causing strains. Acupuncture is usually combined with breathing exercises and helps to relax the body. Just one session can eliminate stress related neck and shoulder strain.

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