Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Neck Pain

Font Size

Cause

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.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 19, 2012
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.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Can you catch one?
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
mosquito
Stings, bites, burns, and more.
Allentown, PA
Are you living in one?
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.