How to Get Rid of a Neck Cramp

Neck cramps are common and can be very painful. It may be difficult to determine the cause of a cramp, but it's often a result of poor posture when sitting at the computer or sleeping with the neck improperly supported. Getting rid of a neck cramp may take some time -- occasionally up to several days, and sometimes up to two weeks if the neck has suffered a strain -- but the sooner you treat it, the sooner you’ll start relieving the pain 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Take over-the-counter medicine, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, for pain. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can help, especially if inflammation is partially responsible for the cramp.

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Place a cold pack on the area for twenty minutes. If the cold pack helps, use it up to four times a day for two days if the pain persists.

Place a hot pack on the affected area of the neck for twenty minutes if the cold does not help, or if the cold pack seems to make the pain worse 1. You can use a microwavable hot pack, a hot water bottle or a heating pad.

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Take a shower, directing the warm water onto the neck area. While in the shower, gently move your neck naturally from side to side to stretch the muscles.

Lie down, or sit in a chair, in a comfortable position with your neck on a massage cushion or pillow. These cushions and pillows are available at many drug stores and other stores that sell home supplies.


Place a towel in-between the cold pack or hot pack and your neck, if the cold pack feels too cold or the hot pack feels too hot.

If you don't own a cold pack, place ice cubes in a baggie and wrap the baggie in a cloth to place against your neck.

Getting someone to massage your neck can also help relieve a cramp.


Neck pain may be a sign of something more serious, such as meningitis. If pain persists, or is accompanied by radiating pain, numbness, headache, fever or sensitivity to light, contact a physician to rule out serious illness.