Causes of neck pain



Causes of neck pain

Neck pain is a widespread disease nowadays. With less and less exercise, the use of electronic devices such as smartphones and bad postures in everyday working life, neck pain becomes a daily companion.

The 5 most common causes for neck pain

Lack of exercise and movement

A day at the office, in front of the TV in the evening, traveling by car or train. Muscle loss and neck pain are likely to increase with lack of exercise and movement.


Most affected people are looking for physical causes of neck pain. However, psychological stress is often the trigger for painful tension in the neck area.

Muscular deficits

If a lack of exercise is present and you are regularly in bad postures while sitting or standing, the muscles are supposed to compensate for this. However, if too weak, neck problems can not be prevented.

Poor postures

Bent to the monitor sitting at the desk, a crooked walk and being a „couchpotato“ on the sofa: These are the classic malpositions we stress our body with every day.


If the muslces harden due to malpositions, one-sided stress and lack of exercise, it is called tension. It is one of the main reasons for neck pain.

Other causes for neck pain

The modern living conditions alone offer a wealth of possible causes for neck pain. Lately there have even seen new diseases, such as the text neck or the SMS thumb. The mouse arm can also cause neck pain. More and more work can now be conveniently done sitting in front of the desktop or laptop. The body, especially the spine, would not call this a relieving posture.

On the contrary even, we make our life more difficult with most technical achievements. The neck, as a particularly fragile and complex structure, is often involved. The causes of neck pain can be roughly divided into two areas. By far the most common cause is tension in the neck muscles, either acute or chronic. The smaller proportion of causes are diseases and injuries that sometimes cause a more or less superficial neck pain as a symptom. The most common causes for neck tension are lack of exercise, poor posture and stress.

It is actually scary how many different possible causes one may have for neck pain. No reason to censor it though:

The 10 most common tensions

From the wrong footwear to a clumsy sudden movement, the five muscle groups in the neck area are very sensitive to external influences.
Causes for one-sided neck pain

Neck pain often only occurs left or right. The causes are various. However, a particular site is rarely associated with a disease or cause.

Neck pain in the elderly

Especially seniors often suffer from neck problems. Age-related wear and diseases of the cervical spine cause neck pain.

Some professions are more often affected by neck pain. These include craftsmen, nurses as well as employees with office jobs.

Different types of neck pain

Pain in the neck area can be subdivided into 4 pain types, based on different causes, which you can find here:

Lumbago, cervicalgia and cervicobrachialgia

3 terms related to neck pain yet relatively unknown. What’s hidden behind those medical terms?

Desk job

One of the biggest threats to the neck area lurks in the office. There are many ways to optimize working conditions and behavior for the neck.

Smartphone neck

Also known as „text neck“,is a relatively new clinical picture. The constant, lowered view on the display ensures permanent muscle hardening in the neck area. In the worst case, it can also lead to herniated discs.

Shoulder-arm syndrome

The neck-and-shoulder-arm syndrome is a disease associated with various ailments: The neck, shoulder and often the entire arm are in pain.


The torticollis is a collective term for various congenital or obtained malpositions of the neck.

Disc prolapse

A disc prolapse not only causes pain in the back, it can even affect the neck.

Pinched vertebra

Pinched vertebrae often cause neck pain. One may find help from the orthopedist, osteopath or physiotherapist.

The wrong bra

The correct fit should be the most important criterion when buying a new bra, since the main purpose of a bra is to hold the breasts.

Malpositions when making a call

How often do you still see people holding the phone between the ear and the raised shoulder? Thanks to technical aid asuch as headphones, bluetooth and speakers there is hardly any reason to do so anymore.

Strength training

Strength training itself is not wrong. Unfortunately, you can do a lot wrong with the way you’re training though. Therefore, a competent thorough instruction before the start of training is absolutely necessary.

Diseased diaphragm

There is a direct neural connection from the cervical spine to the diaphragm. Hence, diseases of the diaphragm can also cause symptoms in the neck region.


Diseases such as tumors, meningitis or even rheumatism can cause uncomfortable neck pain as a concomitant symptom. Thankfully, these causes are rare.

Hollow back and round back

Especially these two bad postures have a strong influence on the head and shoulder posture. It comes to chronic tension in the neck area almost always, if adequate orthopedic care is missing.


Freeletics is a trending sport that tries to create a strong counterweight to everyday office life with hardness and intensity. Due to the intensity, which often goes beyond the physical limits, especially the muscles in the neck area react with hardening.

Pelvic obliquity

Pelvic obliquity is relatively common and does not always cause discomfort. A possible connection with an existing pelvic obliquity is often overlooked in chronic neck pain.

The wrong sports

Sport is in general of great importance. But: First, there are sports that can not be healthy, no doubt, this is pretty much true for extreme sports. Second, not every sport is equally suitable for everyone.

Wrong shoes

The wrong footwear significantly influences the statics of the spine, right up to the neck. Often it’s not obvious especially for the shoe to be the cause of neck tension.

Jaw problems

The jaw muscles are related to the neck muscles. Psychological and stress-related causes are often behind many tensions and misalignments of the jaw. The tension pain can affect the neck area.

Back pain

Back pain can cause neck pain. Often, you don’t think of the back being the cause of problems in the neck, but the combination of both pain regions is quite common.

Spinal disorders

Not only diseases and injuries to the cervical spine can cause significant neck pain, but any irregularity of the spine further down can be noticeable down to the neck area.

Problems with the first vertebra (of the neck)

The first vertebra is the most important vertebra of the cervical spine and carries a lot of weight. If something is not right here, neck pain is inevitable.

Rare causes of neck pain

Some causes of neck pain are not directly obvious. And yet, they exist and should be considered for the diagnosis of neck pain.

Too much TV

Too much television damages both body and mind. Those who still choose the wrong distance, a wrong height and the wrong seating, stress their entire health condition and risk more than just neck pain.

Causes of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain often extends to the neck area and vice versa. The shoulder muscles are an important support corset for the sensitive neck area.

Unhealthy sleep

Those who wake up in the morning with neck pain, feeling completely whacked, should take a close look at their surroundings. Especially the pillow, but also mattress and slatted frame, which are significantly involved in a healthy sleep.


People who are overweight do not only strain their joints and their cardiovascular system, even the statics of the spine becomes unbalanced and signs of wear on the vertebrae increase.

Mineral deficiencies

A lack of minerals, such as magnesium, iron or calcium, can favor neck pain.

Lateral carrying of infants in the riding position

Although it seems to be a convenient way to carry your child for a while, over time, this asymmetric load causes instability of the spine. This can, as a result, lead to tension up to the neck.

Kitchen work

When it comes to back-friendly, ergonomic furniture, you may think about the bed and the desk workplace first. But in the kitchen, the worktops, the sink and the stove are often too low for most people.


During pregnancy, lack of exercise and poor postures often have a negative muscular effect, causing painful neck tension. Other causes are to be examined in pregnant women dealing with neck pain.

Typical triggers in women

Some causes of neck pain affect exclusively or mainly women, for example period, pregnancy or menopause.

Teeth grinding

Those who grind their teeth at night do not just harm their teeth; involved are the jaw muscles and these in turn are connected to the neck muscles. Neck pain therefore is possible to appear through grinding the teeth.


Neck tension, a stiff neck and pain in the neck are summarized as cervicalsyndrome (also known as: cervical spine syndrome). The causes as well as the symptoms are various and numerous.

Too heavy breasts

A large, voluptuous bust size loads the spine in addition to the everyday charges. In this case, a special focus should be put on a good body muscle training and on the purchase of high-quality, supportive bras.


Even more rare than the draught held responsible for a stiff, painful neck, is the draught being actually the cause of it. Nevertheless the sudden, unfamiliar cold forbids the muscles to work properly, and light tensions may cause neck pain.


In medicine, triggering describes a narrow hardening of a muscle fiber. Often, the pains of these painful trigger points radiate into the surrounding areas.


Myogelosis is a painful muscle hardening. „Myos“ comes from ancient Greek and means muscle. „Gelose“ is a palpable change of tissue, called „sclerosis“ hardened tissue.


Fibromyalgia is a connective tissue disorder also known as soft tissue rheumatism. Muscle-fiber pain migrates through different parts of the body. The neck area can also be affected.


In neuralgia, the nerves are the cause of pain that can radiate in the neck. You can read here what causes neuralgia and what you can do about it.


Scoliosis is a lateral deviation of the spine from the longitudinal axis. This may lead to shifts and poor posture in the cervical spine area.

Spinal canal stenosis

In spinal canal stenosis, the spinal canal, through which the spinal cord passes, is narrowed. The noticeable effects depend entirely on the location and extent of the stenosis. A cervical spinal canal stenosis can, amongst other things, cause massive neck pain.


Spondylosis refers to degenerative (wear-related) changes to the vertebral bodies. Amongst other things, it can be caused by years of incorrect loading and poor posture of the cervical spine. They lead to painful movement restrictions in the neck up to neural effects in the corresponding areas.


Hashimoto, the autoimmune disease caused by a permanently inflamed thyroid gland, can be associated with bothersome neck pain.


A whiplash (cervical spine distortion) is one of the most common consequences of a rear-end collision. Due to any nerve involvement, medical treatment is essential. A neck cuff is only applied if the neck area is seriously endangered by movement. Otherwise, start moving as soon as possible again.


Wear-related neck pain is mostly caused by vertebral bodies and vertebral joints. This can gradually result in significant restrictions on movement and chronic pain in the neck area.

Causes of neck pain in children

Unfortunately, do not only adults have neck problems nowadays. Even children are not immune to getting neck pain. Above all, you should know the following reasons causing neck pain as parents:

  • Too heavy school bags
  • Stress in school
  • Game consoles, computers and mobile phones


The variety of causes and triggers for neck pain already hint that the search for the cause can be quite troublesome. Fortunately, in most cases, only muslce tensions are the reason behind neck pain which makes it easy to identify the cause by observing the own environment. Maybe it was really just a breeze, causing the stiff neck to be painful; maybe it was just a thoughtless exercise during sports or a particularly long day in the office.

However, anyone who complains about neck pain can already begin by looking for the causes in themselves first and in the home environment. Maybe it’s time to exercise more and build muscles? Maybe the problem is not in the neck itself. What about the current mental stability? Is there stress at work or in the relationship? The autonomic nervous system is directly connected to the muscle fibers. Mental tensions, over a longer period of time, also keep the muscles in a kind of permanent tension. Tension and muscle hardening are the result, and particularly the neck area is affected.

For most of the time, mental discomfort is accompanied by a corresponding, unnatural posture: head down and shoulders slightly raised. We know this attitude of protection from the less good days or just from the days when wet and cold weather automatically allows us to adopt this attitude.

Only those who know the causes of neck pain are able to fight against the symptoms.

Artikel zuletzt aktualisiert am 23. April 2018 von
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