6 Reasons Why Your Neck Might Hurt

Many people suffer from neck pain for a variety of reasons. Neck pain can range from mild to severe, making everyday activities, such as work, cooking, and even reading, painful. Your neck and upper back are made of bones, muscles, and ligaments that support your head. Any problem with these supporting structures can cause pain.


Mild neck pain can be managed with over-the-counter medication and rest and will improve in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. However, if you are experiencing sudden and severe neck pain, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, especially if it’s due to an injury. Additionally, you should consult a doctor if you experience pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands or arms or if the pain doesn’t go away. 

Causes of Neck Pain

Depending on the cause, you may be able to treat your neck pain at home and prevent it from returning by making small changes to your life. If you believe your neck pain could be indicative of something more serious, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional. Common causes of neck pain include:

  1. Injury 

Moving your neck suddenly, also known as whiplash, can result from an injury, such as a fall or car accident. Whiplash affects the muscles of your neck, causing a strain due to the rapid movement of your neck and head. Ultimately, your neck’s tendons, muscles, and ligaments can stretch or tear.


If you’re experiencing neck pain due to injury, it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible to ensure you’re experiencing muscle pain and there won’t be any long-lasting damage to your neck. Your doctor will also provide you with a treatment plan for helping your neck heal after an injury, which can consist of pain medication, muscle relaxers, and even a neck brace. 

  1. Sleeping in the Wrong Position 

While your mind is asleep, your body might end up in a strange position due to tossing and turning. Sleeping in the wrong position is fairly common and can’t always be prevented, especially if you’re someone who likes to move from position to position at night. However, no matter which position you sleep in, you can prevent neck pain by investing in a new mattress and finding the right pillow for your sleeping position.


When shopping for a mattress, make sure that the mattress can support your body and keep your neck and back in proper alignment whether you sleep on your back, side, or front. While some sleeping positions will cause more pain than others, the right pillow and mattress combination can reduce muscle strains that lead to neck pain. For example, if you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll want a flatter pillow to allow for your neck to be in alignment with your spine. Stomach sleepers using the wrong pillows can often wake up with tightness in their necks and backs and even experience neck pain throughout the night. 

  1. Poor Posture

Poor posture is one of the most common causes of neck and back pain. Sitting, standing, and working with incorrect posture for long periods can lead to chronic pain throughout your entire body. If you’re hunched over a computer all day, you’re putting a lot of strain on your neck and back muscles. 


One way you can combat poor posture is to be more mindful of how you’re sitting and standing. Correcting your posture can be difficult, especially if you’re focused on your work instead of sitting up straight. However, you can make sitting for long periods more comfortable and less straining with proper ergonomic furniture. 

  1. You’re Not Getting Enough Nutrients

Believe it or not, your diet could be the cause of your pain. Ideally, you would get all of your vitamins and minerals in your diet, but many people aren’t able to achieve that even when they’re eating healthily. However, many nutrients can help prevent and reduce inflammation that causes pain. For example, magnesium can reduce inflammation and reduce chronic neck pain. 


Whether your neck hurts because you slept in the wrong position or you sat with poor posture during work, supplements can help you get the vital nutrients you need to combat inflammation and, in turn, reduce and prevent neck pain. 

  1. Repetition 

Moving your head in continuous, repetitive motions can lead to overuse pain that affects the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. While it might be difficult to think about moving your head and neck the same way over and over again, it can happen when swimming, dancing, or engaging in activities that require you to repeat the same actions over and over again. 

  1. Medical Conditions 

Several illnesses can cause neck pain, including osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. 


Worn joints: Individuals suffering from joint diseases such as osteoarthritis wear down their joints faster because the cartilage between the neck and spine deteriorates, forcing the bones to grind against one another in the neck and back, resulting in inflammation, pain, and swelling. 


Nerve compression: Nerve compression, also known as a pinched nerve, occurs when there’s too much pressure on the supporting tissues and structures in the neck, such as bone and cartilage. Pinched nerves are severely painful and drastically limit your range of motion. Almost anything can cause nerve compression, including sleeping in a strange position, keeping your neck in one position for too long, or an accident that causes whiplash. 

Treating Neck Pain

The treatment of neck pain will depend on the root cause. For example, if your neck hurts after you sleep in an awkward position, you might just need a few days of rest and over-the-counter pain medicine. However, if you’ve pinched a nerve, you might need to get muscle relaxers from your doctor because the pain can be unbearable. Additionally, you should always visit your doctor if you’ve been in an accident so they can ensure there won’t be any long-lasting damage to your head, neck, or back. In many cases, neck pain is caused by bad posture, so you may be able to prevent pain by investing in ergonomic office furniture that can help keep your spine and neck in proper alignment. There are always different physical types of therapy to help with any pain and to ensure you are getting quality advice from professionals in the field. 


Julia Olivas

Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance writer where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, painting, and her pup Ruby. 


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