What is the Best Treatment for Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 17 July 2023| min read
What is the Best Treatment for Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Quick Summary

  • Neck and shoulder pain is a common problem.
  • Poor posture and lifestyle habits are the main causes of neck and shoulder pain.
  • There are a variety of treatment options available for neck and shoulder pain.

We spend a lot of time on our computers and phones throughout the day, and we sleep in an incorrect posture at night, yet we wonder why our necks and shoulder ache. Our poor posture and lifestyle habits are the main culprits for neck and shoulder pain. Neck and shoulder pain is quite common worldwide, and finding the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain is the initial step toward living an active and pain-free life. However, determining where to begin might be confusing. This is because the reasons behind neck and shoulder pain can differ, and so does the treatment option. 

Even though treatment may vary depending on the cause of the pain, some options exist to get rid of neck and shoulder pain. This blog compiles information about the common causes of neck and shoulder pain and the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain.

Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

Some of the most common causes of neck and shoulder pain are:
  1. Injuries to the soft tissues in the neck and shoulder may give rise to pain. The soft tissues include ligaments, tendons, and muscles. 
  2. Resting your neck in an unnatural posture for an extended period can cause strains in your neck and shoulder muscles and tendons. This usually leads to pain. 
  3. The sudden swift movement of the neck can lead to the tearing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This is known as whiplash. It generally results in neck and shoulder pain.
  4. Rotator cuff tears are another primary reason contributing to neck and shoulder pain. Such tears can occur due to physical activities or ageing. 
  5. In some rare instances, it can be due to certain cancers or heart problems.
  6. Cervical spondylosis often leads to stiffness of the neck and pain. 
  7. A broken clavicle or collarbone is also a rare cause of pain. 
Thus it’s essential to recognise the particular cause before finding the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain.
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Treatment Options for Neck and Shoulder Pain at Home

Home remedies play a vital role in reducing the symptoms of any disease. The following are some of the home remedies to treat neck and shoulder pain at home:
  1. Hot and Cold therapy: Most patients find that applying heat or cold to their affected area relieves neck and shoulder pain. A warm bath or a heating pad is generally sufficient to release stiff muscles and increase blood flow. Using a cold compress for 20 minutes at a time during the day may help reduce inflammation.
  2. Massaging: Try getting a massage done. Massages are an excellent way of relieving stress and muscle soreness. One can also use ayurvedic and herbal oils for massage.
  3. Exercises: Perform stretches and exercises to relieve neck and shoulder pain. They are beneficial in improving the blood flow to the stuffed muscles and joints, thus promoting healing and providing relief.
  4. Maintain good posture: Make sure you have a good posture while sitting, working on a laptop or while sleeping. Use a neck pillow for a few days. 
  5. Be active: Always be active, and do not completely stop using your neck or shoulder as it can reduce movement and increase pain.
  6. Avoid strenuous activities: Avoid lifting heavy weights or doing any strenuous activities as it can induce more pain in the neck and shoulders.

Exercises for the Treatment of Neck and Shoulder Pain

However, the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain is being active and exercising. It’s a simple, cost-effective solution to eliminating neck and shoulder pain at home. 
One must adopt an exercise routine to incorporate into daily life as a treatment for muscle pain in the neck and shoulder.

Consider these stretches and exercises as answers to your question about how to get rid of neck and shoulder pain. These mild stretches and motions are beneficial for reducing pain and stiffness. 

Stretching exercise for neck pain

This is a great exercise to stretch and improve neck muscle mobility. To perform this exercise, please follow the steps:
  1. Firstly, sit in a relaxed position.
  2. Turn your head forward, chin touching chest, and maintain this posture for five to ten seconds.
  3. Gently move your head back and stare up toward the ceiling. Maintain this position for five to ten seconds.
  4. Bend the head toward the right as if directing the ear towards your shoulder. Maintain a comfortable shoulder posture for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat the movement on the other side.
  5. Slowly turn your head towards the right as if gazing over your shoulder. Stay in this position for a few seconds. Repeat the move on the other side.

Wall push-ups for neck pain

Wall push-ups are great for those suffering from chronic neck pain. They work the muscles surrounding the spine and shoulders and strengthen them. They're better than floor push-ups since they cause less strain on the neck.
Steps to perform wall push-ups:
  1. Stand arm's length away in front of the wall with a proper stance.
  2. The foot should be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Place both hands on the wall, slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Slowly lower your upper body's upper half against the wall by bending your elbows.
  5. Stay in this position till a count of four and then come back.
  6. Perform two sets of 10-15 repetitions with a 2-minute break in between.

Head rolls for neck pain 

Head rolls release tension in the neck and improve upper body mobility and flexibility. They work on the trapezius muscle and muscles around the spine. 
  1. To perform this exercise, stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart and back straight.
  2. Slowly tuck your chin into your chest. 
  3. Right-turn your head till your ear is over your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Turn your head to the left before rolling it back toward your chest. Hold it for five seconds.
  5. Roll your head in a circular motion,  three times clockwise, then three times counterclockwise.

Stretching exercise for shoulder pain

  1. This exercise helps in stretching the front and back shoulder muscles. For testing the shoulders, 
  2. Stand in a doorway with your arms at a straight angle and both hands just on the door handle. 
  3. Bend forward so that you feel a slight stretch beneath your collarbone. 
  4. Hold this position for ten seconds.

Shoulder rolls 

  1. Shoulder rolls are easy to perform and quite effective in improving circulation and releasing tension from the shoulder muscles. 
  2. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and rotate your shoulders such that they make a circle. 
  3. Do this in both directions, forward and backward. Perform two sets of 10-15 reworks each.
  4. If the exercises and shoulder pain treatment at home fail to provide relief, one should try other options for shoulder pain treatment at home.

Treatment Options for Severe Neck and Shoulder Pain

For severe neck and shoulder pain that persists for a longer period and home, treatment doesn’t work; the most crucial step is to find the exact cause. Hence, one must consult a doctor to diagnose the problem and get the proper treatment. 

Some of the standard treatment options for severe neck and shoulder pain that the doctor might recommend are as follows:
  1. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs: The doctor may prescribe some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medications for neck and shoulder pain. 
  2. Cortisone injections: Doctors may inject steroid drugs near the nerve roots, into spinal joints or the neck and shoulder muscles. It helps in reducing inflammation and swelling, thereby reducing pain. 
  3. Stimulating nerves by electrical impulses: For this, a device is used for sending electrical pulses through the skin and excites the nerves, which helps provide pain relief.
  4. Surgery: Surgery is advised in conditions like shoulder fractures and rotator cuff tears.

Preventive Measures for Neck and Shoulder Pain

The good news is that neck and shoulder pain can be avoided by following a few simple steps:
  1. Do not sit in the same position for long. Take breaks and try to get moving every 30 minutes.
  2. Stretch the shoulders, neck, and back frequently throughout the day. 
  3. Correcting one’s posture is necessary to prevent such pain. Make sure to sit and stand straight all the time. 
  4. Get comfortable chairs for working, which support the neck and shoulders. 
  5. While working on a desktop, ensure that the monitor is at the level of the face.
  6. Avoid carrying heavy bags or objects on your shoulders as much as possible.

When to See a Doctor?

One should see a doctor if:
  1. Pain lasts for a week or longer
  2. Pain is severe 
  3. Home remedies don't work
  4. Symptoms such as dizziness, pain spreading down the arms, numbness, etc, are present as they are alarming and could indicate neurological problems.
Waiting for too long is always bad as you could have a serious condition like muscle or ligament tears that need urgent medical care. Hence, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention. 


Strains and sprains from overuse, injuries or poor posture are common causes of neck and shoulder discomfort. Stretching and strengthening exercises can also help alleviate pain. However, for pain that is persistent for weeks or longer, medical attention is required.

At HexaHealth, we are committed to caring for the health of patients. We have a team of qualified medical experts ready to resolve your issues, providing the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain. Reach out to our team at HexaHealth if you are interested to know more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Applying ice packs is an effective method to relieve neck and shoulder pain. The application of ice helps constrict the blood vessels, thus reducing inflammation and pain at the site. Another way is to take anti-inflammatory medications or painkillers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. 
Analgesic drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc., are good for relieving neck and shoulder pain. 
Usually, neck and shoulder pain lasts for one to two weeks. However, it may resurface again. In the case of persisting pain, it might be a chronic condition and need urgent doctor’s attention.
One must see a doctor for neck and shoulder pain remains for a long duration. If it starts disrupting daily life and symptoms such as numbness and dizziness are observed, it’s time to visit the doctor. 
Some of the effective measures for loosening tight neck and shoulder muscles are:
  1. Apply a hot and cold compress on the area.
  2. Getting a massage to boost blood flow and reduce tension.
  3. Taking a warm water bath with some aromatic bath salts. This will help in relaxing and releasing pent-up stress.
  4. Some stretching exercises are also beneficial.
Lie on either side or back. Use a cushion to assist your shoulders and another pillow to elevate your neck. Hug a cushion to open your upper shoulder.
Strains and sprains from exertion or poor posture are common causes of neck and shoulder pain. More severe causes include tumours and degenerative diseases such as spondylosis.
Often a nerve in the neck gets pinched. This causes the neck pain to radiate to the shoulder blade and down the arm. 
Yes, shoulder pain may originate from the neck. If some cervical spine nerve get pinched or compressed, the pain may radiate to the shoulders. 
Yes, shoulder and neck pain can be linked with heart problems. To confirm this, one must look for other symptoms, such as chest tightness, breathlessness, chest pain, etc. 
Heart-related neck pain comes along with other symptoms, such as sweating, uneasiness, breathlessness, and chest pain. 
A stiff neck can be a sign of meningitis. So when meninges get inflamed and uncomfortable, it is noticeable in the neck. This explains why a person suffering from meningitis frequently has a tight, uncomfortable neck. Meningitis is a serious condition and requires urgent medical attention. 
Heart-related shoulder pain is usually sudden and not very severe. It is accompanied by a congested chest feeling or chest pain.
Neck pain can be eased by using an ice pack. Ice can aid in lowering swelling and inflammation by limiting blood flow to an area. Taking painkillers is an additional option that can make the discomfort go for a brief period of time.
A few great exercises for neck and shoulder pain are:
  1. Chest expansion.
  2. Shoulder circles.
  3. Seated twist
These exercises are amongst the best treatments for neck and shoulder pain.

Updated on : 17 July 2023

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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