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Neck Pain

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Neck pain can be caused by:

  • An activity that harms the neck.
  • An injury.
  • Another medical condition.

Activities that cause neck pain

Most neck pain is caused by activities that involve repeated or prolonged movements of the neck. This can result in a strain (an overstretched or overused muscle), a sprain (injury to a ligament), or a spasm of the neck muscles.

These activities include:

  • Holding your head in a forward or odd position for long periods of time while working, reading, watching TV, or talking on the telephone.
  • Sleeping on a pillow camera.gif that is too high or too flat or that doesn't support your neck, or sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted or bent.
  • Spending long periods of time resting your head on your upright fist or arm.
  • Work or exercise that uses the upper body and arms, such as painting a ceiling or other overhead work.

Stress and focusing intensely on a task can also cause neck pain. Tension may develop in one or more of the muscles that connect the head, neck, and shoulders. They may feel tight and painful.

Injuries that cause neck pain

Minor injuries may occur from tripping or falling a short distance or from excessive motion of the cervical spine camera.gif.

Severe neck injuries may occur from:

  • Whiplash in a car accident.
  • Falls from significant heights.
  • Direct blows to the face or to the back or top of the head.
  • Sports-related accidents.

Medical conditions that cause neck pain

Certain medical problems can cause neck pain. These include:

Some medicines can cause neck pain as a side effect.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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