What makes the neck hurt: causes, types of pain, possible problems and treatment

girl's neck pain

The neck is made up of vertebrae that run from the skull to the upper torso. The cervical discs absorb impacts between the bones. Bones, ligaments and muscles support the head and allow it to move. If there are any abnormalities, abnormalities, inflammation or trauma, it can cause pain or stiffness in the neck area. At such moments, it is difficult to immediately determine what the neck hurts from and take any measures.

Many people sometimes experience discomfort or stiffness in this area, most often due to poor posture or excessive exertion. In most cases, neck pain is not a serious condition and can be resolved within a few days. However, in some cases, such a symptom may indicate a serious illness and requires a doctor's consultation.

This article will help you figure out why the neck hurts on the right side, as well as in other places. It will also provide a classification of types of pain and its most common causes. Consider how you can get rid of discomfort in this part of the spine.

neck pain with osteochondrosis

Types of pain in the cervical region

In order to prescribe an effective treatment, a specialist must accurately determine the symptoms and causes of the pathology. Doctors classify neck pain as follows:

  • cervikago - lumbago;
  • cervicalgia.

The latter type involves pain arising from damage to the vertebrae or cervical muscles. Cervicalgia, in turn, can be divided into pain:

  • associated with skin lesions (superficial somatic);
  • associated with muscle or vertebral damage (deep somatic);
  • associated with the appearance in the body of an infection or disruption of the internal organs (visceral).

Cervicalgia, which affects the adjacent areas, is divided into:

  • for cervicobrachialgia (pain goes from the neck to the shoulders);
  • to cervicocranialgia (pain goes from the neck (through the back of the head) to the head).

Speaking of cervicago, it is worth noting that this pain is always acute, it limits the mobility of the neck. It appears abruptly and torments a person for a certain time so that it is impossible for him to think about anything else.

In order to determine why the neck hurts, it is extremely important for the doctor to establish its nature and describe it using the listed classification.

neck pain

Common Causes

Based on medical statistics, most often people who seek medical help for neck pain are diagnosed with a number of the following diseases and conditions:

  • cervical osteochondrosis;
  • osteoporosis;
  • muscle spasm;
  • herniated disc;
  • inflammation of the lymph nodes;
  • systemic disorders in the body (infectious processes, tumors, problems with the immune system).

However, pain can be caused not only by the presence of a person's disease. The onset of discomfort can also be caused by muscle tension or stretching (due to sitting at a computer for a long time, driving a car, lifting weights, uncomfortable posture while sleeping or playing sports). In addition, discomfort may appear due to the fact that a person has a headache closer to the neck.

Why is this happening, and what is the root cause? Only a specialist can answer this question. Sometimes people, trying to get rid of discomfort, take on self-medication - massage, antibiotics, pain relievers and other medications. However, the consequences of such actions may not be the most favorable.

It should be understood what the diseases and conditions listed above are and how they can be dangerous, and also why you cannot treat them yourself.

spinal injury as a cause of neck pain

Cervical osteochondrosis

The appearance of this pathology in humans is associated with anatomical specificity. The dimensions of the cervical vertebrae are much smaller than the bone structures of other segments of the spine. The neck is constantly under stress, and this is due to the fact that its main functions are to support the head and ensure its mobility. If a person asks why the neck hurts from behind, then he needs to consult if he has osteochondrosis in this part of the spine.

The symptoms of this disease may be as follows:

  1. Pain from neck to shoulder extending to the outer surface of the shoulder, forearm and hands.
  2. Penetrating pain in the neck or occipital region (especially worse in the morning, with head movement, coughing, etc. ).
  3. Headache (paroxysmal or persistent, dull, impulsive, aggravated by turning the head), dizziness, blurred vision, ringing in the ears.
  4. Pain in the chest muscle.
  5. There is a violation of the blood flow of the cerebral arteries, which sometimes leads to temporary loss of consciousness. With a deterioration in health, speech and motor functions may be impaired.

It is not worth treating this disease on your own, since the consequences of such actions can be far from joyful. But turning to professionals, a person can be sure that the therapy will be of high quality and effective.

Typically, the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis can include the use of various anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, gels and restorative ointments, physiotherapy and health exercises. Various medicinal patches and so on can be used.


This is a bone disease that occurs when bones lose their density. As a result, they become weak and can break when dropped or minor impacts. It is most common among women during menopause, but habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, and poor diet and sedentary behavior increase the risk of its occurrence.

pain in the cervical spine

For many people, the formulation of such a diagnosis can be the answer to the question of why the neck hurts from behind and at the same time gives it to the arms and shoulders.

Doctors distinguish three stages of this disease. The first stage assumes that a person begins to experience such changes in the cervical spine as a decrease in the density of the vertebrae, mild cramps, weakness and pain occur. In the second stage, constant headaches appear, the pressure can drop sharply and rise above normal, numbness in the hands and general weakness appear. The third stage (the most difficult) assumes that a person experiences severe deformities in the vertebrae, a hump may appear in the collar zone, and head and neck pains become constant companions.

Treatment of osteoporosis is aimed at slowing or preventing its development, maintaining bone mineral density, and reducing pain. This is achieved through the use of supplements and medications, as well as a person's revision of their lifestyle in favor of light, but constant loads (walking, playing sports), proper nutrition.

Muscle spasm

Why does the neck on the left side hurt? The cause may be a spasm. It occurs not only on the left, it can affect the right and back of the neck. This is due to the involuntary contraction of the muscles as a result of intense exertion. The situation often causes severe pain that lasts from minutes to several days.

Asking why the neck muscles hurt, a person should think about how he sleeps, works, sits. Often, spasms occur due to a violation of the natural position of the body, the transfer of weights on the shoulders, including bags, stooped shoulders, and other conditions (including serious illnesses).

Pain relievers can then help relieve neck pain, relieve muscle tension, and reduce inflammation. However, they must be taken, following the attached instructions and with the knowledge of the doctor. If you are not sure that the neck pain is caused by a spasm, you should not take any medication before consulting a specialist. In this case, you can apply an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) to your neck to temporarily relieve pain.

It is always worth remembering that it is very difficult to independently determine what your neck hurts. If the discomfort persists or intensifies, then this can be a very serious reason to go to your doctor.

Herniated disc

This element is a strong ligament that connects one vertebral bone to another. The discs are cushioning cushions between each vertebra of the column. A hernia in the cervical spine can occur when too much pressure is exerted even on a healthy disc (carrying heavy loads, falling from a height).

Symptoms of this condition usually include severe pain that can spread to one or both arms or legs, as well as numbness or tingling in the limb area, muscle weakness, and loss of sensation. Initially, a person may not understand why the neck hurts when turning, bending, or other habitual movements. However, over time, the discomfort becomes unbearable. Some people may not have neck or back pain with a herniated disc. Where the symptoms will manifest themselves depends on where exactly the pathology is located.

Treatment of a herniated disc depends on the severity of the disease and the visible damage. Most often, the condition of people improves within six weeks after the first visit to the doctor. In many cases, medication and quality physical therapy are sufficient. Therapy can use medications to control pain, reduce muscle spasm.

Inflammation of the lymph nodes

Typically, these pathologies result from exposure to bacteria or viruses. When these changes occur in the body, it becomes not difficult to understand why the neck hurts on the left or on the right, since it is in these areas that the lymph nodes are located. They can swell in response to an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold. Associated symptoms that may be present along with edema are cough, fatigue, chills, runny nose, profuse sweating.

inflammation of the lymph nodes as a cause of neck pain

What does the neck hurt with inflammation of the lymph nodes? The answer is simple: the pathological process affects the nerve endings, which send pain signals.

Treatment of such a condition usually includes identifying its nature (virus, infection, bacteria, tumor). Then the doctor prescribes medications for the treatment of the root cause, which has a beneficial effect on the removal of the inflammatory process.

Various systemic disorders in the body

Sometimes people may not understand why the neck and head hurt, from which these sensations go to the back or arms. Often this condition can be caused by some systemic disorders in the body. These include various tumors, depression, arthritis, infectious processes, meningitis, internal hemorrhages and other serious pathologies.

Pain in the cervical region can also occur when the body does not receive in the required amount of some useful substances (vitamins, micro- and macroelements).

Why the neck hurts in front, behind, or if muscle discomfort and headaches are felt, only the doctor will answer according to the results of tests and additional studies. The root cause may be due to the poor condition of other organs, not just the collar zone.

pain in the cervical spine


The first thing that needs to be done in order to establish the cause that causes pain in the neck is to visit a therapist. He will appoint the necessary consultation with other specialists and determine the need for technological diagnostic methods.

The specialist will explain why the neck hurts on the right side, on the left or in another part of it. He will collect a complete history and determine what disorders in the body are currently taking place.

During the examination, a person can be assigned the following diagnostic methods:

  • MRI;
  • CT;
  • ECG;
  • Ultrasound.

MRI can help determine the condition of the tissues, CT scan - to identify pathologies in the cervical vertebrae, ultrasound is necessary to study the arterial ring, vessels and nearby tissues, and ECG so that the doctor can exclude various cardiac pathologies.

In addition, one of the mandatory tests is the study of the patient's blood, which will help establish whether inflammatory or infectious processes are taking place in the body.

What to do?

Every person in pain wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. For neck discomfort, the following can help:

  1. Apply ice to the sore spot (initially wrap with a towel).
  2. If mild pain is caused by overexertion, you should temporarily stop heavy physical exercise and give time to your neck muscles to rest.
  3. It is necessary to do light neck exercise (slow bends and turns) throughout the day.
  4. You should control your posture so as not to aggravate the situation with additional loads on the muscles and vertebrae.
neck pain in men

If the pain persists within one to two days, you should seek help from a doctor who will determine why the neck hurts. If symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, numbness or tingling, swelling, nausea, inability to move the head or limbs are added to this, then you should immediately call an ambulance team or come to a specialist on your own.


In order not to ask questions why the neck hurts closer to the head, in other places or muscle spasms occur, it is important to monitor your health and follow a number of the following recommendations:

  1. You need to sleep only on comfortable pillows that would allow the cervical spine to relax during rest. To avoid neck and back problems, it is best to purchase an orthopedic pillow.
  2. The best position for a comfortable rest of the entire spine is lying on your back. You should train yourself to fall asleep in this position.
  3. you need to choose the correct chair height and monitor position when working at the computer.
  4. It is not worth texting, playing games or reading on mobile devices for a long time. This creates an excessive load on the neck (most often, during this activity, the head is lowered, which causes disturbances in the work of this part of the spine).
  5. It is important to pay attention and find time for exercise, walks in the fresh air and sports.
  6. You should adjust your diet and diet. It is very important that the body receives the required amount of nutrients throughout the day.
  7. It is best to give up bad habits (overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol and drugs).


Having considered the main reasons why the neck hurts, we can conclude that it is unlikely that it will be possible to establish and fix the problem on your own. Therefore, it is important not to hesitate. You need to see a specialist right away, even if your neck pain can be tolerated. It is worth remembering that even minor discomfort may indicate disturbances in the functioning of the body.