Health conditions

Neck pain

What is neck pain?

Neck pain is common and usually will settle down with simple management.

It is usually referred to as either:

  • specific – your health professional will identify if you have a high risk of a serious disorder causing neck pain. Specific neck pain could result from a number of conditions such as:
    • infection
    • tumour
    • osteoporosis
    • fractures
  • non-specific – this is the most common type of neck pain. While it is unclear what is causing the pain, it usually settles down after a few days.

What causes neck pain?

Non-specific neck pain can occur from day to day activities, such as:

  • bending your neck for long periods at work
  • sleeping in an unusual position

Normal age-related wear and tear can also cause neck pain and stiffness.

Treatment and management of neck pain

The current recommendations for managing your non-specific neck pain are to:

  • keep moving
  • avoid prolonged rest
  • pace your activity (do little bits often)
  • change positions frequently
  • stay active.

Your doctor may recommend medication such as:

  • paracetamol
  • anti-inflammatories.

Currently there is no cure for neck pain, but there are many things that can help.

What about neck pain and headaches?

It is important to discuss your headaches with your healthcare professional as there can be many different causes.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor or healthcare professional
  • Visit painHEALTH (external site), a website developed by WA Health, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia. painHEALTH is dedicated to helping sufferers of osteoarthritis and other forms of chronic pain and musculoskeletal pain
  • Visit healthdirect (external site) or call 1800 022 222



This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.