Home treatment for a stiff, painful neck includes the use of ice and heat, over-the-counter pain relievers, gentle stretching and a temporary reduction in activity, according to MedlinePlus. Sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow and gentle massage can also decrease pain.
Ice should be used for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury, according to MedlinePlus. It numbs the pain and reduces inflammation. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes at a time several times through the day. To prevent frostbite, wrap an ice pack in a thin cloth before applying to the skin.
Heat is useful for loosening tight muscles and increasing blood flow, but too much can aggravate pain, according to HowStuffWorks. Apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes at a time every two or three hours. Protect the skin from burns by wrapping hot packs with a cloth before applying.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with inflammation and discomfort, notes MedlinePlus. Topical treatments such as Icy Hot or Ben Gay may be helpful, since they need to be massaged into the skin.
Gentle range-of-motion exercises can also decrease pain and increase flexibility, according to HowStuffWorks. For increased comfort, apply moist heat before stretching. Then, slowly turn the head from side to side. Next, slowly move the head up and down. Finally, tilt the head to the left shoulder and then the right. Repeat all exercises five times each several times a day.