Why does my neck hurt?

Most often, patients have an idea why they’re hurt, but sometimes hidden causes need to be identified. 
Once found, corrective action can be taken, and a preventative program instituted.


Anytime injury occurs which damages muscles, tendons, ligaments, or the joints of the neck – you can have neck pain. Following are way people commonly injury their necks.

  • Auto Accident
  • Slip and Fall
  • Slip, but not fall
  • Hit head getting into car
  • Fall and hit ground in sporting event
  • Head a soccer ball
  • Turn head suddenly
  • Sleep in a twisted manner
  • Begin new exercise program
  • New job/computer work

All of these can cause strain and injury to the muscles or ligaments isn the neck. When this occurs, your body will try to heal the injured area. Often, the body is unable to heal it correctly and small scar tissue develops in the muscle. This leads to further injury and pain with each use of that muscle.


Once injured, inflammation plays a vital role in healing by bringing in proteins and important chemicals to stimulate and speed healing. However, if the inflammatory response is excessive, the chemicals can be a source of pain. Excessive inflammation is a cause of pain and can and needs to be controlled.


Arthritis, or degenerative joint disease in the joints of the neck causes pain. Arthritis is caused by microtrauma to the joints and joint surfaces of the vertebra in the neck. The body attempts to correct the damage by fortifying the area with greater bone density and additional bone which we call a bone spur. Bone spurring in the neck is another cause of additional pain.

The original trauma which causes the first damage to the joint surfaces might be any of the above listed injuries. However, an often overlooked cause of joint surface damage is misalignment of the spinal vertebra. Patients who are chronically misaligned with not enough joint level movement develop arthritis earlier than normal spines.

Weak Muscles

Any of the above causes of injury can lead you to modify or reduce your activity level in order to avoid pain. This pain avoidance leads to reduced levels of muscle strength as you use your neck less and less. This cycle of reduced use and increased muscle strength loss leads to more and more pain.

Disc Bulge or Disc Herniation

The discs of the spine act as spacers and allow for movement between each vertebra in our spine. They are made up of tough fibrocartilage around the outside of the disc and a softer center portion which allows our spine to have such a great movement potential.

However, due to physical trauma or prolonged repetitive stress, sometimes, the discs increase in size and protrude outward putting pressure on sensitive nerve tissue including the spinal cord and nerve roots.  Often associated with this are pain, tingling/numbness into the shoulders and down the arms.

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