Neck pain is stiffness or aching of the neck. Other symptoms are muscle spasms, headache, and problems moving.
Relaxation and medicine can help ease neck pain. Some people turn to natural therapies to help ease pain.
These therapies are likely to ease neck pain:
- Acupuncture uses thin needles in the body to ease pain.A1,H1
- Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you ways to cope with pain.B1
- Dry needling places a needle without medicine into a muscle to ease pain.H2
- Low-level laser therapy uses light over painful areas to promote healing.D1
- Massage H1
- Spinal manipulation applies pressure to a person's spine or other body parts to improve health.F1-F5,H1
- Yoga combines breath control, meditation, and body poses.E1, E2
May Be Effective
These therapies may ease pain:
Not Enough Data to Assess
- Traditional Chinese herbal medicine C1, C4, C5
- Exercise I1
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A1. Seo SY, Lee KB, et al. Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Electroacupuncture for Chronic Neck Pan: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Am J Chin Med. 2017;45(8):1573-1595.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
B1. Monticone M, Cedraschi C, et al. Cognitive-behavioural treatment for subacute and chronic neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(5):CD010664.
Herbs and Supplements
C1. Cui X, Trinh K, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for chronic neck pain due to cervical degenerative disc disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(1):CD006556.
C2. Sharan D, Jacob BN, et al. The effect of cetylated fatty esters and physical therapy on myofascial pain syndrome of the neck. J Body Mov Ther. 2011;15(3):363-374.
C3. Letizia Mauro G, Cataldo P, et al. α-Lipoic acid and superoxide dismutase in the management of chronic neck pain: a prospective randomized study. Drugs R D. 2014;14(1):1-7.
C4. Yuan QL, Guo TM, et al. Traditional Chinese medicine for neck pain and low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 24;10(2):e0117146.
C5. Trinh K, Cui X, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for chronic neck pain due to cervical degenerative disc disease. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 Nov 15;35(24):2121-2127.
Low-level laser therapy
D1. Chow RT, Johnson MI, et al. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials. Lancet. 2009;374(9705):1897-1908.
E1. Cramer H, Klose P, et al. Effects of yoga on chronic neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2017;31(11):1457-1465. E2. Li Y, Li S, et al. Effects of yoga on patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain: A PRISMA systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(8):e14649.
E2. Southerst D, Nordin MC, et al. Is exercise effective for the management of neck pain and associated disorders or whiplash-associated disorders? A systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1503-1523.
F1. Coulter ID, Crawford C, et al. Manipulation and Mobilization for Treating Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis for an Appropriateness Panel. Pain Physician. 2019 Mar;22(2):E55-E70.
F2. Masaracchio M, Kirker K, et al. Thoracic spine manipulation for the management of mechanical neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2019 Feb 13;14(2):e0211877.
F3. Gross A, Langevin P, et al. Manipulation and mobilisation for neck pain contrasted against an inactive control or another active treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Sep 23;(9):CD004249.
F4. Zhu L, Wei X, et al. Does cervical spine manipulation reduce pain in people with degenerative cervical radiculopathy? A systematic review of the evidence, and a meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2016 Feb;30(2):145 55.
F5. Lin JH, Chiu TT, et al. Chinese manipulation for mechanical neck pain: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2012 Nov;26(11):963-973.
G1. Girard J, Girard A. The effects of qigong on neck pain: A systematic review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb;34:23-29.
G2. Southerst D, Nordin MC, et al. Is exercise effective for the management of neck pain and associated disorders or whiplash-associated disorders? A systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1503-1523.
H1. Wong JJ, Shearer HM, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630.
H2. Liu L, Huang QM, et al. Effectiveness of dry needling for myofascial trigger points associated with neck and shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 May;96(5):944-955.
I1. Gross A, Kay TM, et al. Exercises for mechanical neck disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 28;1:CD004250.
J1. Patel KC, Gross A, et al. Massage for mechanical neck disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Sep 12;(9):CD004871.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 6/14/2019