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Neck pain is common and normally improves within 6-12 weeks

Pain in the neck is common and most of the time does not mean you have damaged your neck or spine. Pain can be felt anywhere along the spine, from the neck down to the lower back and in some cases into the shoulder and arms. Often neck pain can start for no reason. Some people will describe doing something to cause their symptoms but for most people the symptoms will start for no particular reason.

You are the best person to help your neck get better.

If it is a new problem you often don’t need to seek any medical advice. X-rays/scans or treatment are not usually needed and most people just need to keep moving and the pain will improve in time. The pain is usually related to irritation of soft tissues. There are many soft tissues in your neck, so establishing which one is causing the problem is usually not possible or needed to help you recover.

Most neck pain starts to fade in 2 weeks and settles within 6-12 weeks

Symptoms to check

Click the plus sign to see a list of problems that could be a sign you may need to be checked urgently

When to get immediate medical advice

You should contact a GP or NHS 111 immediately if you have neck pain and:

  • numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks
  • loss of bladder or bowel control or difficulty peeing
  • severe arm pain with accompanying tingling or numbness
  • chest Pain
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • a swelling or a deformity in your neck
  • problems walking
  • lack of coordination or heaviness to your arms or legs
  • sudden, significant weakness to your arms and legs
  • it does not improve after resting or is worse at night
  • severe headache
  • it started after a serious accident, such as after a car accident


These problems could be a sign of something more serious and need to be checked urgently.

Immediate medical advice is available by contacting NHS 111

Referral information

If your neck pain persists or you are not sure what to do, you can self-refer to see a local physiotherapist who can help you with your problem.