Why Your Neck Hurts (And How to Fix It)
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
It’s safe to say that most of us at some point in time have woken up with neck pain or can recall an event or injury that resulted in leaving you with a nagging pain in your neck.
The number of people suffering from neck pain in the United States has nearly tripled over the last decade. Eight out of ten adults will experience neck pain at some point in their life. Some neck pains are short-lived, while others can last for weeks or months—even years.
No one wants to live their lives in pain. Living with pain can interfere with doing the things in life that bring you joy. In this post, we’re covering the reasons why your neck may be hurting and what you can do to alleviate and eliminate your pain.
Things that can cause neck pain
Neck pain usually arises from muscles, tendons, and ligaments—commonly referred to as the soft tissues or fascia—in and around the cervical spine (the neck).
There are so many things that can cause your neck to hurt. The neck is prone to straining because people move it constantly throughout the day. Here are some of the common causes of neck pain:
1. Poor posture
Poor posture is the cause for many of our headaches and neck pain because slouching builds pressure on the neck muscles and head.
Today, “slouching'' or forward head posture is a very common problem. From sitting at a computer for several hours to hunching over texting to driving to even just cooking dinner at night for your family, forward leaning is a major cause of neck pain.
Your neck is vulnerable to injuries especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move outside of their normal range.
People who play sports regularly can put a lot of wear and tear on the muscles and ligaments of your neck. Direct blows to your head or shoulder can lead to head injuries, as well as disc and nerve damage, strains and sprains, and other neck injuries.
And these types of neck injuries can leave your neck feeling not-so-hot.
3. Bad sleeping habits
You likely figured out your preferred snoozing position years ago, and old habits die hard. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’re not doing your neck any favors. When you sleep on your stomach, you have to twist your head and neck to the side, which can put pressure on nerves.
4. Worn joints, degeneration and wear and tear
Just like other joints in your body, the vertebrae and discs in the neck wear down. Over time, you may experience chronic, or persistent, pain in the neck.
Some medical conditions can also cause the vertebrae, discs, and other parts of the neck to break down. These conditions may include:
Cervical disc degeneration
Common neck pain signs and symptoms
Neck pain can happen slowly over time, immediately following an injury, delayed after an injury, or suddenly without any prior signs. Some signs and symptoms include:
Stiffness, tightness, and spasms. Soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head from side to side.
Headache, especially around the eyes and forehead. An irritation in the neck can affect muscles and nerves connected to the head causing headaches like: tension headache, cervicogenic headache, and occipital neuralgia.
Sharp pain. This pain may be pin-pointed to one spot and might feel like it is stabbing or stinging. This type of pain typically occurs in the lower neck.
General soreness. This discomfort is typically felt in a broader area or region of the neck. It is described as tender or achy, not sharp.
Decreased movement. You lose the ability to move your head in certain directions.
Solutions: Ways to alleviate and eliminate your neck pain
1. Use good posture and adjust your desk & chair
Paying attention to your desk setup is important. If your desk isn’t adjusted properly, it can contribute to your neck pain. For your standard sitting desk, the height of the work surface should allow you to type naturally on a computer keyboard.
The surface should be adjusted to the height that allows you to reach the work surface easily when your arms are at your sides with the elbows bent to 90 degrees. Learn how to adjust your workstation correctly here.
2. Sleep on your back
It’s an unfortunate reality that sleep problems can cause neck pain. The way you sleep plays a key role in how your body feels.
Sleeping on your back, with a flat pillow or cervical pillow with neck support is one of the best ways to reduce your neck pain. Avoid big fluffy pillows that put your chin to the chest. Instead, use flat skinny pillows with a small towel rolled up behind the neck.
3. Get your muscles released in the neck and shoulder area
When you’ve strained or injured a muscle, it contracts or shrinks so that you can't and won't move it so that the muscle can heal. It's what we like to call: "mother nature's cast".
Without treatment, your muscle heals shorter and more contracted than it was before you got hurt. This takes away your normal range of motion. And you're not able to use that muscle the same way you once could before. And if you’ve been struggling with neck pain for years, your neck has been held in that short, contracted state for a very long time.
Getting your muscles released will eliminate your neck pain—for good. And at Therapy Central Bodywork, that’s exactly what we do. We lengthen your fascia (soft tissue) so that your muscles can take their original shape. This stops your muscles from painfully pulling at any of their attachments.
At the end of this process, your muscles and fascia are lengthened—which gives you back full range of motion, proper blood supply, and lymphatic drainage to your problem areas that have been worked on.
Our massage therapy technique—known as the Moench Method—uses a combination of myofascial release, deep tissue massage, and ischemic pressure through targeted ranges of motion on the problem area. We’ve used this method for over 25 years and have helped thousands of people eliminate neck pain permanently in the shortest time possible.
If you’re tired of spending thousands of dollars on neck treatment and therapies and still having your pain problems persist, you’re in the right place. Book an appointment at either of our two locations or give us a call at (512) 244-6241 to talk to one of our licensed massage therapists today.