Neck pain during or after pregnancy

Neck pain is common in pregnancy and often due to changes in sleep position and increased tension in the muscles surrounding the neck and head. Neck pain can also be linked with headaches.



  • Pain can be central in the neck or down one or both sides.
  • The pain can also be felt in the upper shoulder region (next to the neck).
  • Pain often builds throughout the day and is worse when looking all the way to the right or left.
  • Pain can often be more pronounced when trying to sleep or when waking in the night / morning.


  • Change in posture
  • Change in hormones adding to increased laxity / movement in joints
  • Previous history of neck and or upper back pain
  • Change in sleep positions / lack of sleep
  • Stress

Here is what the evidence says about the treatment options for neck pain during or after pregnancy:


Specific neck Pillowsevidence suggests that spring and rubber pillows are effective in reducing neck pain. There was no evidence found for what shape of pillow would be best or even if it made any difference.

The pillows that we would recommend based on this evidence are: the Rubber Pillow or the Spring pillow.



Trigger point release balls – evidence shows that dry needling and trigger point release is effective in treating neck pain. Dry needling would involve booking in with your local Physiotherapist (who is a registered acupuncturist).

Carrying out your own trigger point release can be done using a specific ball like THESE to relieve the tension in the muscles. Symptom relief can be quite immediate with this treatment. Check out this video for  a great ‘how to’ guide.



Tape – evidence does support the use of Kinesio-taping for neck pain. It has been studied in great detail and although the benefits are somewhat minimal, it is better than no treatment at all (and simple to do). Have a look at THIS video for a simple application technique.

The tape is really easy to apply, you just need a partner to help you with the application. You can buy it HERE. This tape comes with really good reviews, we have used it (with patients in clinic) and we can confirm that it does stick very well and will last a couple of days without peeling off.



Heat – If the neck is aching a lot of the time (even at rest), then heat can help to relax the muscles. Try a wheat bag like this one as often as you feel you need it. It can be a great alternative to taking pain killers.


TENSEvidence suggests that TENS can be helpful for neck pain but mainly when combined with other treatment modalities (such as physiotherapy or exercises). There are many different TENS machines available to buy, so if you are thinking of TENS as a treatment option then have a look at our Top 5 picks to make things a little easier.


Yogaevidence suggests that yoga can relieve neck pain intensity, improve pain-related function and increase the range of movement available, whilst also boosting your mood.

There are lots of Online Yoga programmes available, have a look at our Top 5 here (and why we love them)!  You can also read our blog on how yoga can help in other ways.



Exercise tips – Just because your neck hurts, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move it. Try to continue moving as normally as possible. Stretch through all ranges of motion (turn to the right and left, look up and down and tilt right ear to shoulder and same to the left).


What symptoms to watch for with neck pain.

See your healthcare practitioner or go to A&E if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with your speech or swallowing
  • Any episodes of fainting
  • Any double vision
  • Fever / chills and a new headache / sensitivity to light
  • Pain worse when lying flat / at night
  • Neck pain following trauma – i.e. a car accident
  • Numbness / pins and needles in your arms and or legs
  • Weakness or loss of control of your arms and or legs
  • Any form of incontinence that comes with the neck pain
  • Night sweats (common in pregnancy but mention if you are concerned about your neck pain also)
  • Weight loss



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Please Note:
Although the posts on this site are written by fully qualified Physiotherapists, the advice is of a generalist nature and could not take into account the particular physical or medical condition of individual audience members. The information given is meant to be practical and informative but is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The information available is not meant to replace any relationship that exists between an audience member and their GP, hospital specialist or other healthcare professional. If you are after individual advice or you are concerned about any of your symptoms you must consult your own therapist or healthcare provider.

About The Author

Abigail Taylor qualified as a Physiotherapist in 2005. She has a special interest in Women’s health Physiotherapy and research. Abigail is the founder of ‘Pain in the Bump’ which she developed whilst on her maternity leave with her second baby.