A Pain in the Neck

Your neck has a big job to do, supporting the weight of your head through a wide range of motion during everyday activity — and inactivity. Almost everyone experiences neck pain at some point.

Most is due to muscle strain from overuse or poor posture. Hunching over a computer, driving long distances, or sleeping in an odd position can strain neck muscles and cause discomfort. Accidents, falls, and contact sports can also injure the neck muscles and ligaments.

If your neck pain arises from muscle strain, you can usually relieve it with ice, rest, gentle stretching, and improved posture. If your work or hobby requires long bouts in the same position, take frequent breaks: stand up, move around, and stretch your back and neck muscles. If self-treatment doesn’t alleviate neck pain within a week or so, see your doctor.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms:

Severe neck pain after an accident or injury

Neck pain accompanied by weakness in an arm or leg

Difficulty walking

Neck pain with high fever and severe headache; can’t touch your chin to your chest.

Attend to less severe injuries right away to keep your neck healthy — and your head held high.

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