Neck pain can pop up overnight, sometimes, without any inciting events. The severity of the pain can be mild to severe, but often the cause is hard to find. Conventional imaging including MRI and X-ray may find anatomical changes in the joints and discs, but these may not always directly correlate to your pain. As long as there is no generalized muscle weakness, high fever, loss of function of the limbs, or trouble grasping objects, there is no reason to worry excessively.
Initially, your best bet is ice to reduce any inflammation and to find a comfortable position to help alleviate your pain. Even though there is pain, movement is your best approach to managing the symptoms. More than 2-3 days rest can actually slow recuperation time!
After the initial inflammation, using heat to any tender muscles and gentle stretching maneuvers can go a long way. (see below for one type of stretch.) If this doesn’t start to give you some relief, and if things in general don’t get gradually better each day, it’s time to schedule an appointment!
Have a specialist evaluate you; more likely than not, the solution to your problem is less invasive than you may think.
**Stretch: A common stretch that you could try is performed by slowly lowering your ear towards your shoulder until you feel a stretch. Do this while seated in a chair in an upright position. Hold this position for 5 seconds and release. Go back to a normal position. (See attached image) [While attempting this technique, if you feel any type of discomfort, STOP the exercise immediately.]