Health Information

Neck Pain Q&A

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Neck Pain Q&A

Written by Sweta Boghra 


1. How common is neck pain?

It is estimated that 1 in 3 people would experience neck pain during their lifetime and with higher incidence in women (1).


2. What are causing the neck pain, is it really the neck, or is it shoulder, or other body have issues?

Generally, causes of neck pain are related to lifestyle factors such as excessive screen time, poor work ergonomic set up and reduced physical activity levels. However chronic pain can be caused by shoulder impingement, reduced thoracic mobility, therefore a thorough evaluation would help determine the cause of neck pain. (2)


3. Does painkiller help?

They are effective in relieving acute neck pain, but they may not be helpful in chronic pain. (3)


4. Should I get a better pillow that support my neck?

You might not need to change your pillow if you go to bed with neck pain, but gradually get comfortable and wake up with less pain. However, if you wake up every morning with pain, it’s not only worth trying other pillow which provides good support for your neck lordosis but should also look at your sleeping position. (4)


5. What can I do to relieve stiff neck?

For minor neck pain and stiffness, moving your neck in the available range will provide relief and prevent further stiffness. Hot water bag or hot shower will reduce muscle spasm and make you more comfortable.


6. How do I know if my neck pain is serious?

Neck pain lasting for more than 3-5 days without any improvement, peripheralization of symptoms, pain keeps you awake at night, dizziness or fainting attack with neck pain. And, if your neck pain is related to any accident or trauma, it should be evaluated by a professional


7. When should I see doctor/physio?

An episode of neck pain worsening gradually, neck pain with peripheral symptoms like pain, pins and needles or numbness radiating down the arm, neck pain along with dizziness, night pain, neck pain related to any accident. Also, it is worth visiting a medical professional to rule out any alternate causes of neck pain.


8. What treatment is needed?

The physiotherapist will assess you and provide specific treatment for your symptom presentation. This may include joint mobilisation, other techniques to facilitate the movement of joints and relaxation of muscles. As part of your neck treatment, they will also give you specific exercises to restore movement and help you achieve good posture, along with strengthening exercises to help minimize the recurrence of pain. (5,6) 


9. How can I prevent it?

It’s important to maintain good posture especially when a certain posture is held for long duration, like using phone, sitting at work. It also helps to get into a regular habit of doing gentle stretches during the day at work and frequent breaks. As research shows regular exercises has good evidence at preventing neck pain by restoring altered load balance. (6)


10. There is a myth: neck pain is unavoidable as you age, is it true?

The prevalence of neck pain increases with age especially if you have had previous episodes of neck pain. However, if addressed with proper treatment, it doesn’t mean that you will have constant neck pain because of aging (5).



1. D.G. Hoy, M. Protani, R. De, R. Buchbinder,The epidemiology of neck pain, Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, Volume 24, Issue 6, 2010,Pages 783-792

2. Gorski, Jerrold M. MD; Schwartz, Lawrence H. MD Shoulder Impingement Presenting as Neck Pain, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery: April 2003 - Volume 85 - Issue 4 - p 635-638

3. Evaluation and Treatment of Posterior Neck Pain in Family Practice Alan B. Douglass, Edward T. BopeThe Journal of the American Board of Family Practice Nov 2004, 17 (suppl 1) S13-S22)

4. Susan J. Gordon, Karen Grimmer-Sommers. (2011) How Well Does Your Own Pillow Perform?. Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain 19:2, pages 87-94.

5. Alan B. Douglass, Edward T. Bope The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice Nov 2004, 17 (suppl 1) S13-S22; DOI: 10.3122/jabfm.17.suppl_1.S13

6. Linton, Steven J. PhD*; van Tulder, Maurits W. PhD† Preventive Interventions for Back and Neck Pain Problems, Spine: April 2001 - Volume 26 - Issue 7 - p 778-787