Understanding neck pain causes

neck pain causes

The cervical spine is a complex structure that supports the head and allows it to move in different directions. The neck region has unparalleled freedom of movement. This mobility coupled with its complexity makes the neck more susceptible to pain and risk of injury.

Neck pain is a common problem often resulting from a muscle strain or stress on the spine due to an injury, disease or poor body mechanics. People with neck pain often feel it radiate to connected regions including the head, jaws, shoulders and back. In this roundup, we will discuss the common causes of neck pain and the best treatment option to ease your pain.


Whiplash is an injury that occurs when your head suddenly jolts in one directionforward, backward or to the side—and back into place. Whiplash is a common injury among people involved in accidents and sporting injuries. It causes strain on your neck muscles and makes ligaments in the neck region to stretch or tear. The neck pain may be accompanied by headaches, muscle spasms, dizziness or shoulder pain.

Muscle strain

Continued overuse of the neck muscles in your everyday activities can trigger muscle strain, which causes neck pain and stiffness. This pain is often associated with poor neck position. It can induce muscle spasms and headaches or even restrict the movement of your neck.


As you grow older, the vertebrae and discs in the neck region wear and tear gradually. As they degenerate, you may experience chronic neck pain. Some conditions that cause the vertebrae, discs or other vital parts of the neck to wear and tear include inflammation, arthritis, cervical fractures, spondylitis, pinched nerves and degenerative disc disease.

Bad sleeping position

It is common for people to wake up feeling pain or stiffness in the neck, shoulders or back. The sleeping position you adopt, the firmness of your mattress and type of pillow you use can all affect how you wake up feeling in the morning.  Sleeping without some support for the head or with your neck out of alignment potentially increases the likelihood of neck pain.

Brachial plexus injury

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves connecting your spine to the arms and shoulders. If these nerves are damaged, you are likely to experience neck pain. One common injury that affects the brachial plexus is a blunt force trauma resulting from an accident or sporting injury.

Other less common, but more severe causes of neck pain, include serious injury, torticollis, cancer, cervical spinal canal stenosis, rheumatoid arthritis, infections, bone disorders, and damage to the vertebrae, nerves or spinal cord.

Neck pain treatment

Although moderate neck pain responds to some home remedies, it is usually not possible to treat severe neck pain by yourself. Some situations require medical help, plus a couple of weeks to resolve.

For most neck pain symptoms, we recommend that you seek assistance from the physical therapists in our Battle Creek,  KalamazooMattawanPlainwell or Portage, Michigan clinics.

Contact us today for more information on understanding neck pain causes or to schedule an initial appointment.

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