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Neck Exercises for Neck Pain

Neck pain is very common and usually is relatively mild and temporary, settling down within a week or two. However it can be much more troublesome and be a cause of pain and disability which interferes substantially with life. Further resources on neck pain can be found at Arthritis Research UK with a symptom checker at

The symptoms of cervical spine neck pain include pain from a mild ache to a severe pain, pins and needles in the shoulder or arm, muscle spasms and reduced ranges of movement of the neck. A stiff neck may be the result of sleeping awkwardly, arthritis of the neck joints or due to an arthritic condition such as ankylosing spondylitis.

Torticollis neck pain is an abnormal head posture due to involuntary muscle contraction and may occur during sleep so the person wakes with neck pain and stiffness. The pain will need to subside with some rest, heat and painkillers before exercises can be usefully performed.

Typical simple neck exercises should be performed slowly and steadily with each movement done separately, avoiding rolling the head or neck in a large circle which can be aggravating. Some pain can be expected at the end of the movement or even during it, but this should not be severe or a different approach should be tried.

Neck exercises should afford a reasonable amount of neck pain relief if they are performed regularly and over a moderate length of time, with some people needing to maintain simple neck exercises for many years or always.

Poor posture may be one of the reasons for back pain and a poor lumbar posture leads to a poor posture of the upper body and the neck. Correcting the lumbar posture can therefore have good effects on neck posture and pain.

Neck pain interferes commonly with sleep and people search for the best pillow for neck pain to make their nights better. A physiotherapist can advise on the pillows for neck pain but the principle is to do a lot of trial and error! The neck is usually best held in the “neutral posture”, meaning neither tilted to one side or another, and may require two pillows with one being larger and firmer and one being much slimmer and softer.

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