Most of us have at least once experienced that sudden pain or kink in the neck that lasts for a few days. It disturbs daily life and makes it really difficult to move the neck. Medical conditions aside, a sore neck can occur because of various reasons. These include:

  • Sudden twisting of the neck
  • Bad posture
  • Lifting heavy things
  • Sleeping in an uncomfortable position

Although a sore neck is not a severe medical condition, it can cause immense pain and discomfort, which makes it important to get rid of it as soon as possible.

If you too are bothered by this condition and are looking for quick relief, here are some home remedies and tricks that can help you get rid of neck pain in no time.

Find best medical apps

  1. How to relieve neck pain
  2. Tips and precautions for neck pain
  3. When to see a doctor for neck pain

No matter the underlying cause, neck pain can be relieved at home with some easy remedies and tricks. Read on to know more about them and how you can use these remedies to relieve the pain and stiffness in your neck.

(Read more: Stiff neck symptoms, causes, treatment)

Hot compress to relieve neck pain

It is a great technique to reduce neck pain. Applying a warm compress on the neck increases blood flow and metabolism thereby increasing the elasticity of connective tissues in your neck. Not only does it help ease neck movement but also provides relief from muscle strains and muscle injuries. All you need to do is to put a heat pack on the painful area for about 10-15 minutes. You will feel instant relief from pain on the application of the heat pack. Don't keep the pack on your neck for long at once. Instead, remove and reapply it for short intervals. In case you don't have a heat pack at home, you can make your own hot compress at home in the following way:

  • Take a clean cotton cloth
  • Wrap it into many layers
  • Using an electric press, heat it up
  • Keep this warm cloth on your neck to get the much needed relief

Here is one more idea to make a heat pack at home

  • Take a cloth pouch
  • Fill it with rice
  • Close the pouch properly so that there is no leakage of rice
  • Keep this pouch in a microwave and heat it up
  • Use this pouch as a heat pack

Note: Do not heat these hot packs too much. Too much heating can cause burns. In case hot packs are heated too much, either leave it for some time or wrap it with another few layers of cloth. If the discomfort is too much to make a hot pack, you can also go for hot showers.

Ice pack to relieve neck pain

Just like hot packs, application of ice packs also gives great relief in neck pain. However, contrary to heat, cold application leads to a temporary closure of small blood vessels, giving relief from pain and swelling. It works instantly and effectively. Ice packs also give a cooling sensation to your stiff neck. It is especially effective if you have slight swelling and heat in the area. Follow these steps to apply a cold pack for your neck pain:

  • Take an ice pack and keep it in your freezer
  • Take it out after some time
  • Put the ice pack on your neck
  • Leave it there for 10-15 minutes
  • Remove the pack and reapply it if needed after some time

In case you don't have an ice pack, you can use these simple tricks

  • Take some peas in an airtight packet. Freeze it to make an ice pack.
  • Apart from peas, you can just use some coins. Cool these coins in the fridge and collect them in an airtight packet. Use this as a cold compress.
  • Another great idea to make a cool pack is to take a clean diaper or sanitary pad. Add some water to these and freeze it to use.

Exercise to relieve neck pain

Exercises targeting the neck help stretch and strengthen neck muscles, promoting speedy recovery from neck pain. Although there are not many studies proving its benefits, exercise is a time-tested remedy for neck pain that most people swear by. There are various exercises and movements that you can use for getting relief from neck pain. When done properly and regularly, they also act as a preventive measure for this condition.

Isometric exercise: This exercise helps improve the range of movement of neck muscles while also providing relief from pain. You just have to use an object or your hand to apply an opposing force on your neck while at the same time trying to stretch it. Repeat this exercise a few times to get relief.

Other exercises: Exercises which include gentle stretching of neck muscles in all directions can also give good results. These include:

  • Rolling your shoulders backward 
  • Bringing your ear towards your shoulders
  • Squeezing your shoulder blades

For long term relief, do each of the above for approx 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can get help from a physiotherapist.

It is important to note that performing exercises in the wrong way can worsen the situation. So exercise gently and follow a correct stretching pattern.

Epsom salt to relieve neck pain

Epsom salt bath or soaking in Epsom salt is often suggested by doctors in case of muscle pain and swelling. It is believed to be effective in reducing sprains and easing muscle stiffness and body pain. Magnesium sulphate present in Epsom salt is considered to be the primary reasons for all of its benefits. However, when it comes to scientific evidence, the results have not been satisfying enough. Nonetheless, Epsom salt does not have any side effects so there is no harm in giving it a try. There are two ways you can use Epsom salt to relieve neck pain:

  • Use Epsom salt as a soaking solution: For this, mix 2 cups of Epsom salt in a tub of warm water. Soak yourself (especially neck) in this tub for approx 20 minutes. This will help relax your muscles and give you relief from neck pain.
  • Make a hot compress with Epsom salt: For this, mix 1 cup of Epsom salt in some warm water. Dip a towel in this solution, drain it properly and apply it over the neck for 15-30 minutes. Repeat if needed. 


There are some medical cases, in which you should avoid using Epson salt. Some of these cases include:

  • Kidney disease
  • In case you are under any prescription medication
  • In case of a magnesium-restricted diet
  • Diabetes

Apple cider vinegar to relieve neck pain

You must be wondering what is this acid doing in this list? Well, apple cider vinegar has proved its efficiency in alleviating pain with regular external application. It can give great results in case of cramps and stiffness and also reduces inflammation and swelling. So, here is how you can use apple cider vinegar for neck pain:

  • Take some apple cider vinegar in a bowl
  • Dip a clean piece of cloth in apple cider vinegar
  • Apply it directly over your skin
  • You can also leave the cloth piece on the neck for some time
  • In some cases, apple cider vinegar can cause little irritation in the skin. To avoid this irritation, you can dilute apple cider vinegar with some water
  • Reapply as per requirement

Tip: Some people may experience slight itching on direct application of apple cider vinegar on skin. In that case, you can dilute it with water or don’t use it at all.

Ginger to relieve neck pain

Ginger is said to exert a soothing and warming effect on the body, which may be helpful in reducing muscle stiffness. Consumption of ginger on a regular basis is also believed to be helpful in muscle pain. Though there is no concrete proof so far to confirm this claim, a clinical study indicated that ginger consumption helps reduce muscle pain due to exercise-induced muscle injuries. So, using ginger both internally and externally may be helpful in getting rid of that annoying pain in your neck. Being a natural anti-inflammatory herb, ginger can provide great relief from neck pain caused due to swelling. Here is how you can apply ginger for neck pain:

For internal consumption

  • Cut ginger into small pieces
  • Soak these ginger pieces in water
  • Leave it for a few hours
  • Consume this solution after straining
  • You can add some honey into the solution to reduce the bitter taste
  • Continue this till the pain is not gone
  • Avoid excess consumption of ginger infusion as it may lead to side effects

For external application

  • Grind ginger into very small pieces
  • Add this semi-paste into cloth
  • Soak this into some warm water
  • Apply this in the form of a compress on your neck

Using ginger oil can also be a good option.

Massage to relieve neck pain

Massage is one of the best techniques to relieve chronic neck pain. It has now been scientifically proven that therapeutic massage can give great results, especially in short term pain. Massage therapy includes many techniques such as pressing and rubbing of muscles and other soft tissues. When done properly, it increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles. Apart from this, massage also reduces stress and anxiety.

You can ask any of your family members or to give you a general massage over your neck and shoulders.

A massage needs to be gentle and done in a proper way to prevent further worsening of the condition. So, it would be better to get a massage therapist instead of trying it yourself at home.

Essential oils to relieve neck pain

Essential oils are volatile plant extracts that possess various therapeutic properties and have proven to be really helpful in providing respite from body pain. In many studies, it has been found that application of essential oils, especially that obtained from lemon, Rangpur and, key lime can give relief from neck pain. They also help in reducing swelling due to their anti-inflammatory properties and providing nourishing compounds to the skin to promote overall well being.

Apart from these, other essential oils like lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and, rosemary oil are also suggested to be really effective in relieving neck pain. Let us see now how to apply these oils:

  • Choose any essential oil according to its availability
  • Roll-on of these essential oils are also available in the market
  • These are much easier to use and store with minimal wastage
  • Now apply this oil all over your neck and shoulders
  • Just applying the oil will not be sufficient
  • So, give your self a gentle massage too
  • Then wait for the magic to happen

It is said that prevention is better than cure. Surely, most of you will agree with this. Neck pain can also be avoided by keeping in mind certain important points. Here are some prevention tips that can help you keep away stiff neck problems and neck pain:

  • Maintain a correct posture always. Do not slouch. Keep your body parts in a straight line but avoid tiring yourself keeping your back straight.
  • Make sure to get appropriate support for your lower back while sitting in a chair.
  • While talking on the phone, do not support or hold your phone with your shoulders. Hold your phone with hands, if hands are busy, try using a headset.
  • Keep your shoulders in a relaxed position.
  • Avoid lifting too heavy items.
  • While working on a computer, keep the screen on eye level. Bending your neck while using a computer or laptop for long can lead to a sore neck.
  • Do not stay in a single position for long. Try stretching in between and change positions. This is especially for people who drive for long durations.
  • Try gentle neck exercises throughout the day like rolling your neck and gently moving it sideways.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Neck pain occurring due to posture problems usually resolves after some time, however, it is best to check in with a doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • If neck pain persists even after a week
  • In case pain spreads to other body parts like shoulder and arms
  • Difficulty in moving
  • If you are unable to chew or swallow food and water
  • In case of numbness in the neck
  • Swelling in neck glands
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Trouble in balancing


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