From Day 1

Pain relief

  • Localised heat or cold can often ease some of the pain and inflammation. Make up either:
    a. a ‘heat pack’ by using a wheat bag or wrapping a filled hot water bottle in a towel (not boiling water); or
    b. an ‘ice pack’ by placing crushed ice cubes in a polythene bag with a small amount of water and wrapping it in a damp tea towel. Place a or b around the back of the neck for 10 minutes every 1–2 hours
  • Soft collars are no longer routinely advised as they have not been shown to help. If you were given one, it is important that you remove it several times a day


It may be necessary to have a check X-ray before starting these exercises. If you are unsure, please discuss it with the doctor.
Start movements of the neck from the first day of injury (unless specifically instructed not to by a doctor or physiotherapist).
Sit comfortably in an upright chair, it might at first be easier to sit facing a mirror.

Do each movement 3 times every 1–2 hours.

  1. Keeping your chin level, slowly turn towards the left shoulder (just as far as the start of the pain) and then back to the middle. Repeat towards the right shoulder
  2. Keeping your chin in the middle, slowly tip your left ear towards the left shoulder (just as far as the start of the pain) and then back to the middle. Repeat towards the right shoulder

At night

Lie with your head and neck fully supported in a midline position.

For lying on your back: Hold a feather pillow in the middle and shake it until it is very thin. Place this thin part under the hollow of your neck.

For lying on your side: Use one or two thick pillows, giving support to the whole neck and head in line with the rest of the spine.

From Day 3

Continue as before, but with the following progression:


  1. Continue with exercises 1 and 2, now trying to increase the range of movement a little further each time, even into a small amount of stretch pain
  2. If a soft collar was provided, this should now be abandoned unless specifically advisedAlso start:
  3. Keeping eyes level, take your head back away from the mirror, whilst keeping your chin level, then relax
  • If you become dizzy or develop arm pain, stop the exercises and consult a doctor or your physiotherapist
  • If movement is not improving within 1–2 weeks, please return for a review
  • Be patient – progress can often be slow with injuries to the neck

If you need this information in another format, please telephone:
01935 384 256

Ref: 07-17-112
Review: 03/19