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The Harvard Health Decision Guides help you determine the appropriate next steps to alleviate your pain.
Strengthening your core muscles to better support your spine can help prevent neck pain. Six exercises are illustrated. Pulling your chin in, sitting up straight, adjusting your workspace, can also help.
Most men develop neck pain for the same reasons they suffer low back pain, often strained or sprained muscles, ligaments, and tendons. First-line therapy is rest, ice, heat, pain relievers, and possibly limited use of a neck collar. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles can speed recovery from a painful neck condition and possibly reduce flare-ups. Therapy will likely combine isometric and range-of-motion exercises. In isometric exercise, you tighten the neck muscles against an opposing force. If neck pain is severe, lasts for weeks or months, drastically limits your ability to move your head, radiates into the shoulders, or feels worse in the morning, more extensive therapy and possibly surgery may be indicated.
Nearly 21 million women live with neck pain. The problem is
typically caused by arthritis and degenerative disk disease, and
accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress,
and a lack of sleep. The best treatment for neck pain is a
combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and
stretching exercises. Ergonomic improvements such as keeping a
computer monitor at eye level and putting a tablet reader at a
45° angle can also help prevent neck pain.
In a study, women who followed a program of exercises designed to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles experienced a significant decrease in neck pain.