Neck pain / injury: aftercare advice

Information for patients from the Emergency Department

Please speak to a healthcare professional before following the advice below

Neck pain and injury can occur from motor vehicle crashes, sports, or sudden movement. Some people may only develop pain a day or two after the incident. This is a good sign and means the damage is unlikely to be serious.

How will my injury be diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made after a thorough examination of your injuries. During your examination it may be decided that you do not need an x-ray.

How can I help ease my pain?

What you do in the early stages is important.


The sooner you start exercising, the sooner you will get better.

Be sure you are sitting upright in a good position before starting your exercises. Use smooth, slow movements.

You should gradually stretch your neck to the point of pain, then gradually try to go a little further each time.

Exercise 1

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    Exercise 1
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    Exercise 2: turning your head to the left
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    Exercise 2: turning your head to the right

Exercise 2

If the exercises are painful to do while sitting, you may find it easier to do them lying on your back with your head supported.

If any of your symptoms are aggravated by any of these exercises, or you develop pins and needles in your arms and / or hands, then stop immediately and get medical advice.

Correct sleeping positions to avoid neck pain

Always sleep on a firm bed either on you back or on your side. Never sleep face down. If you sleep on your side, there are two points that are important:

A rolled-up towel placed behind the back of your neck at night when lying flat helps to relieve your discomfort.

Displaying bad and good posture while sitting

Good posture is essential to a healthy neck

Make sure that you keep the gentle hollow in the small of your back at all times. This will automatically correct your neck posture (chin tucked in, shoulders back and relaxed).

Do not slouch or poke your chin forwards. Sit / stand up straight and tuck your chin in.

When will my neck start to feel better?

The pain and stiffness should gradually begin to wear off after about four to five days. However, pain may continue for several weeks.

If after following this advice your pain gets worse or does not improve after two weeks, or you develop pins and needles in your arms and / or hands, then please get further medical advice.