Causes of Neck Pain and Stiffness

Causes of Neck Pain and Stiffness

Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from your skull to your upper torso. 

There are cervical discs between the bones that absorb shock. The bones, ligaments, and muscles in your neck not only support your head but also allow for motion. Stiffness and pain can occur if there are abnormalities, inflammation or injury in any part of your neck. 

For the most part neck pain can feel stiff, making it difficult to turn the head. It can also feel like a sharp, stabbing pain in one spot, soreness in a general area, or pain that radiates down the shoulders, arms, or fingers. 

Neck pain or stiffness can be caused by many things. For the most part, it isn’t a serious condition and can be resolved in a few days.

Muscle tension and strain

The most common causes of neck pain—strains and sprains—heal within a few days or weeks. Muscle tension and strain is usually due to normal activities and behaviours. Factors such as poor posture, working at a desk for too long in the same position, sleeping in a bad position or jerking your neck while exercising can affect the muscles in your neck. repetitive motions or holding your head in an unusual position for a sustained period will also cause strain.


Your neck is especially vulnerable to injury. Falls, car accidents and sports injuries could cause the muscles and ligaments to move outside of their normal range. Injury from sudden jerking of the head is called whiplash. A disc could also protrude, which could add pressure to the spinal cord or nerves. This is called a herniated cervical disc or a slipped disc. If you are experiencing any neck pain from a fall, car accident or sports injury, call a doctor and schedule a consultation. 

Heart Attack

Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack. However, just having neck pain does not mean you are having a heart attack. Typically other symptoms are present too. These include shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and arm or jaw pain. If your neck hurts and you have other symptoms of a heart attack, call an ambulance and go to the emergency room immediately.


Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints and bone spurs. If this occurs in the neck, neck pain can result. There is also arthritis of the neck. When you age, your cervical discs degenerate. This condition is called spondylitis or osteoarthritis of the neck. Degenerating cervical discs can narrow the space between your vertebrates and add additional stress to your joints.


Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures. Normally this condition occurs in the hands or knees, but can also happen in the neck.

Other causes of neck pain include emotional stress, infection, tumors, fibromyalgia, spondylolisthesis or myofascial pain.

Normally neck pain is not a serious problem and can heal within a few days or weeks. If you are experiencing chronic or debilitating neck pain, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Kind Regards,

The SpineAlign Team