Have you had an episode of acute neck pain? Statistics show that 10-15% of the population has neck pain at any given point. The chances are you or someone you know will have an episode of neck pain. Let’s talk about how to manage it should it happen. It can be somewhat frightening if you wake with an episode of neck pain or your child does. I can still remember my brother waking up when he was a child and screaming because his neck hurt and he couldn’t turn his head. It can be alarming, but less so if you know how to manage it effectively in the first 48 hours.

What caused my neck pain?

Young woman sitting on the bed with pain in neck

Neck Pain – Body of Life Health Centre

You may wonder what brought it on but you may never know. It may be the result of an injury, poor posture, a long day at the office or studying, a change in bedding, after an intense workout or lifting a child. Whilst you may be curious to know what caused it, you don’t have to know exactly in order to manage the pain effectively.

Is it possible that my neck pain is caused by something serious?

Possible yes, but very unlikely. In fact less than 1% of neck pain is brought on by a serious medical condition.

What should I do when I have Acute Neck Pain?

  1. If the pain concerns you, it is important to see your health practitioner: a doctor, osteopath or chiropractor. They will assess for any serious concerns although these are rare. They will organise any additional investigations, however in most cases no further tests are required. A case history and physical examination may be sufficient to rule out any serious concerns. They will hopefully explain your neck pain and how to manage it.
  2. Manage your pain – there are many ways people try to manage their neck pain. Some of these have good evidence of effectiveness, others less so. There is good research that staying active and continuing to move the neck will aid your recovery, as well as gentle neck exercises combined with treatment to help mobilise the neck joints.
  1. Stay active – you may not feel like carrying on your normal activities, however it is important to try and resume your usual activities as soon as possible. This will help to prevent more long-term problems with your neck.

If your pain is not settling down or is getting worse, you may need further assessment so it is important to follow up with your health practitioner.

Article written by Dr Melanie Woollam (Osteopath)


Acute Neck Pain: A partnership approach to pain management. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au