Most neck pain can be treated without surgery. Treatment may involve rest, the use of analgesics, reducing inflammation, restoring proper function and strength to the neck, and preventing recurrence of injury. Most patients with neck pain recover without residual functional loss. Patients should contact a doctor if there is not a noticeable reduction in pain and inflammation after 72 hours of rest and self-care.
Although ice and heat (the use of cold and hot compresses) have never been scientifically proven to quickly resolve neck injury, compresses may help reduce pain and inflammation and allow greater mobility for some individuals. As soon as possible following trauma, patients should apply a cold pack or a cold compress (such as a bag of ice or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel) to the tender spot several times a day for up to 20 minutes. After 2 to 3 days of cold treatment, they should then apply heat (such as a heating lamp or hot pad) for brief periods to relax muscles and increase blood flow. Warm baths may also help relax muscles. Patients should avoid sleeping on a heating pad, which can cause burns and lead to additional tissue damage.
Chiropractic treatment: Chiropractic care can offer a very effective approach for neck pain. The chiropractic physican can administer a variety of effective conservative approaches to care for neck pain. The approaches include spinal manipulation, the use of a nutritional anti-inflammatory approach, physiotherapy, spinal decompression/traction and spinal rehabilitation with the use of exercise and postural retraining.
Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from neck pain and help strengthen neck and abdominal muscles. Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities. Doctors and physical therapists can provide a list of gentle exercises that help keep muscles moving and speed the recovery process. A routine of neck-healthy activities may include stretching exercises, swimming, walking, and movement therapy to improve coordination and develop proper posture and muscle balance. Yoga is another way to gently stretch muscles and ease pain. Any mild discomfort felt at the start of these exercises should disappear as muscles become stronger. But if neck pain is more than mild and lasts more than 15 minutes during exercise, patients should stop exercising and contact a doctor.