Treating Back of Neck Pain

In most cases, conservative management with over the counter medications including Tylenol or ibuprofen, along with self care comprising of application of heat / cold  with some gentle stretching exercise is enough to alleviate the symptoms.

If after a few weeks of such treatment significant relief is not obtained, further evaluation and medical help is necessary.

Back of Neck Pain Relief Medicine

For mild to moderate pain, acetaminophen and/or Ibuprofen (NSAIDS) are usually helpful.

For those who have severe back of neck pain, tricyclic antidepressants are also effective.

For severe muscular spasms a muscle relaxant may be recommended.

However both tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants have side effects of increasingly feeling sleepy.

Application of Ice and Heat for Back of Neck Pain Relief

Ice can reduce the severity of neck pain. It can be applied to the sore area directly.

To control muscle tightness an ice pack or even a frozen towel wrapped in a dry towel can be applied to the affected area for about 20 minutes at a time.

This can be repeated two to three times per day.

It is important not to apply the ice for more than 20 minutes at a time as it may cause injury to the skin, especially to those with poor skin sensation (e.g. Diabetics).

Moist heat may also reduce neck pain. The application of a heating pad for about twenty minutes a day may give pain relief.

Again, caution should be maintained as applying heat for more than twenty minutes may cause skin injury. Similarly, taking hot shower or bath help as well.

Massage for Back of Neck Pain Relief 

Massage the back of your neck by applying gentle pressure to both sides of the neck. This helps in relieving muscular spasms.

Stretching Exercises for Back of Neck Pain Relief 

Restoration and preservation of cervical range of motion is an important conservative management tool for reducing neck pain.

However, if you are experiencing radiating pain or numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, these exercise should not be continued unless recommended by a healthcare provider.

These exercises can be performed with few, very basic maneuvers. For example, forward bending of the neck towards the chest by the chin, neck rotation, and neck tilting.

These should be performed for at least 10 times.

Work on Your Posture for Neck Pain Relief

Another very basic principle of neck pain treatment.

Improving your posture can be achieved by avoiding sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time.

Adjusting your computer screen to be at eye level also helps.

Too high or too flat pillows needs to be avoided. Sleeping on the stomach with the head tilted may also cause back of neck pain and should be avoided.

Try to avoid prolonged overhead work. Using a proper chair at work with back support is also a basic key to avoiding back of neck pain.

Transcutaneous Electric Stimulation For Neck Pain Relief

TENS unit by using mild electric current may sometimes help in reducing neck pain.

However, it is important that a healthcare provider be contacted to get to know how to use the unit.

Healthcare provider will also look into the contraindications (if any) for use of the unit for the patient.

Physical Therapy / Chiropractic treatment For Neck Pain Relief

Physical Therapy / Chiropractic treatment Can be provided by healthcare providers.

Treatments include stretching, strengthening isometric exercises, modalities ( heat, ice, ultrasound), traction, myofascial release, home exercise instructions.

Usually 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks is recommended treatment protocol to achieve optimum benefit.

Injections for Back of Neck Pain Relief

Trigger point injections, epidural steroid injections, diagnostic facet block/Medial Branch Block with lidocaine, and Radio Frequency Ablation procedures are also helpful in alleviating neck pain.

Surgery for Neck Pain Relief 

Usually not useful unless gross neurological deficit or uncontrolled symptoms of pinched nerve despite  prolonged conservative management including injections

Orthopedic Doctor Dr. Rahman is a fellowship trained, practicing Physiatrist and Pain Management specialist and partner at Westchester Sport and Spine. Dr. Rahman has subspecialty training in Musculoskeletal and Interventional Pain Medicine and focuses on conservative, non-invasive treatments for most conditions.