Neck Pain or Stiffness

Disponible En Espanol

Care at Home

  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Most new neck pain is from stretching and turning the neck muscles too much. This causes strained muscles from muscle overuse. * Looking up or to the side for too long is a common trigger. * When muscle pain starts without reason, it's often from sleeping in an awkward position. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • PAIN MEDICINE: * To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  • COLD PACK: * During the first 2 days, use a cold pack or ice wrapped in a wet cloth. * Put it on the sore muscles for 20 minutes. * Repeat 4 times on the first day, then as needed. * Reason: Reduces pain and any spasm. * Caution: Avoid frostbite.
  • HEAT PACK: * If pain lasts over 2 days, put heat on the sore muscles. * Use a heat pack, heating pad or warm wet washcloth. * Do this for 10 minutes, then as needed. * Caution: Avoid burns.
  • SLEEP: * Sleep on the back or side, not the stomach. * Sleep with a neck collar. * Use a foam neck collar (from a drug store). If don't have one, wrap a small towel around the neck. * Reason: Keep the head from moving too much during sleep.
  • ACTIVITY: * Protect the neck for 48 hours. Then start a gentle stretching program. * Avoid any sports or work that increase the pain.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * New neck pain without a reason most often goes away in a few days. * Neck pain from muscle overuse (strained neck muscles) goes away in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Neck pain becomes severe * Stiff neck occurs * Pain starts to shoot into the arms, upper back or legs * Pain lasts more than 2 weeks * Your child becomes worse


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
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    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
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