Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common muscle joint and bone symptom.

We have designed a three-step approach to help you understand your options and encourage you to think about all of the things that might be affecting your problem.

Where is it felt?

You may feel pain and stiffness in the neck, head, shoulders and upper back.

The symptoms can be felt with simple day to day activities such as sitting, moving your neck, awkward neck positions.

Neck pain can affect our ability to carry out daily activities, including work and hobbies.

At times the pain can feel severe and for some be ongoing. This can affect our general well-being and mental health.

Why does it happen?

Neck pain problems can start because of an injury (for example a car accident), from doing more than you normally do (for example increased lifting or increased exercise) or it can start for no obvious reason.

It can affect any of us at any age.

Is it serious?

Although the pain and disability caused by an episode or flare of neck pain can be severe at first, very rarely are the symptoms a sign of something serious going on.

However you will need to see your GP if:

  • If you have a severe headache, dizziness, changes to your vision or hearing
  • If you are feeling unwell, sick or have a fever with neck pain

If you are feeling neck pain alongside a change or deterioration in your walking, balance or ability to grip and use your hands consider seeking further help or see your GP.

If you are noticing weakness into your arms and/or hands alongside neck pain consider seeking further help or see your GP.

Will it get better?

The answer for most people is yes as most symptoms will ease in the first 2 to 6 weeks for a new onset of neck pain or a flare-up of longstanding neck pain.  It can take some people longer to get back to their normal and some describe ongoing problems.

Taking steps to look after your physical and mental health can give the best opportunity of a successful recovery.

What can I do to help myself?

Some of the most important things you can do to help your neck pain are related to your lifestyle choices and general health. We have provided some useful links to help guide you through.

The information in Step Two explains the factors that can affect the severity and impact of muscle joint and bone symptoms.

Step Two explains the factors that may be contributing to your situation.

Step Three explains self-management advice on what you can do to help yourself.

Learn more about:

Alongside the self-management advice in Step Three, some general exercises for neck pain can be helpful to support a gradual return to normal movement and function.

What can be done to help me?

An assessment of your problem and treatment may be necessary if the self-management advice in Step Three does not help. Consider seeking further help. 

If you continue to be concerned about the symptoms you are experiencing and are unsure what to do contact your GP practice or ring NHS Wales 111.