What Causes Sore Necks?

What is neck pain and why should you care? The causes and solutions to having a sore neck are more common than most understand. Find out more.

What Causes Sore Necks?

While every part of the body serves an important function, the neck has a particularly special one. After all, it's a body part that helps us speak, swallow, drink, and breathe. The neck does this all while supporting the head, thanks to the muscles, ligaments, and bones that comprise the neck. While this usually gets done without issue, there may be times when sore neck occurs, which may be caused by several factors like inflammation or injury. Here's an in-depth guide on these causes, their symptoms, and the treatments done for sore-neck situations.

Poor Posture

Whether it's sitting properly at work or standing upright while walking, a good posture helps prevent sore necks. According to Healthline, poor posture puts strain and tension to your muscles, which could leave your neck sore if you maintain such a position. People at risk include employees who sit for too long at a desk without changing their posture. This explains why ergonomic chairs and other office furniture are placed for workers' comfort.

Bad Sleeping Position

Bad sleep habits also account for neck pain, as shown by research. This would involve sleeping with pillows that lack enough head or neck support. The problem worsens once sleeping this way becomes a habit, oftentimes without the person even realizing it. As shown by research, bad sleep habits might start at a young age and might affect how bones develop before adulthood. Similar to poor posture, bad sleeping positions put unnecessary strain on your muscles.


Another sore neck cause would be injuries sustained, be it at home, at play, or at work. Examples by WebMD include sports injuries, which can occur in competitive play. Another common injury would be whiplash sustained from a car accident. Whereas bad sleep habits or poor posture develop over time, injuries can happen in a matter of moments and could be fatal if they damage the neck severely.

Underlying Conditions

In some cases, neck pain could be traced to underlying conditions that come from the body. According to Self, this could include illnesses that cause inflammation like meningitis or rheumatoid arthritis. Cancer has also been shown to damage the bone tissue surrounding the neck, just as how a tumor can compress a nerve in the area. While injuries, poor posture, or sleeping positions can be determined easily, a person might not be aware that they are living with an underlying health condition that causes neck pain.

Physical Therapy

Fortunately, physical therapy is available as a solution for neck pain. People who show symptoms undergo a physical exam by their doctor, who will use a CT Scan or an X-Ray. Patients could undergo posture alignment and neck-strengthening exercises with the supervision of a therapist. The latter could also perform stimulations via heat, ice, or electrical on the affected area to alleviate the pain and avoid it from recurring.

Pain Medication

Depending on its severity, doctors can also prescribe pain medications to help you manage the neck pain. The Mayo Clinic explains that ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and similar over-the-counter pain relievers are commonly used for this. The frequency and dosage of the pain medication would vary from person to person, which necessitates consultation so the doctor could ascertain how much of it is needed by the patient.


While many cases of neck pain can be remedied by physical therapy or medication, there are some that would require surgery to get to the root of the problem. This might be done to relieve nerve roots or spinal cord areas from which the neck pain can originate. The doctor might also use steroid injections on these areas to make sure that the pain can be numbed to a bearable level.

To Sum Things Up

Experiencing a sore neck could be due to several factors, including muscle strain brought about by bad sleeping positions or poor posture. It could also be traced to preexisting health conditions or injuries sustained from accidents or sports play. With the medical advancements today, people with neck pain have options for treatment depending on how serious their case is. Physical therapy is a common choice, done with supervision and exercise. Pain medications and surgery are also options for those who need more in-depth treatment.

Resources—Mayo ClinicSelfWebMDHealthline

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