If you are dealing with an acute injury—ligament sprain, muscle strain or herniated disk—you will need to ice the area. The best way to tell if ice is necessary is to poke around the painful area. If the painful points are easily found and are tender to the touch, that is a good indication you need to ice the region. Icing is a very specific activity, which can make or break your healing, so following the proper icing rules is essential. Watch the video below for the proper way to ice an acute neck injury.
Ice breaks inflammation—that vital part of the healing process that can act destructively when allowed to sit around for too long. Inflammation has an interesting characteristic, whereby it causes a diffuse pain (wide area, difficult to pinpoint). As inflammation decreases, pain becomes more localized. These are a few more signs that tell you the need for ice. People often ask about using anti-inflammatories, like Motrin, instead of ice…I wrote a piece on it here, and will leave it to you to read up. Once inflammation has been reduced sufficiently, you can move onto the next step