Neck pain or stiffness is usually from poor posture, overuse, or an awkward sleeping position. But sometimes, it can indicate a serious injury like whiplash or an illness, so a doctor’s care may be necessary.

Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones.

Neck pain symptoms

Neck pain symptoms can range in severity and duration. Oftentimes, neck pain is acute and lasts for only a couple of days or weeks. Other times, it may become chronic. Your neck pain may be mild and not interfere much with your activities or daily living, or it may be severe and cause disability.

Symptoms of neck pain may include:

  • Stiff neck. People with neck pain often describe feeling as though their neck is stiff or stuck Neck pain can sometimes cause a decreased range of motion.
  • Sharp pain. Neck pain may feel like sharp or “stabbing” pain that is localized to one area.
  • Pain when moving. Neck pain is often exacerbated by moving, twisting, or extending your cervical spine, either from side to side or up and down.
  • Radiating pain or numbness. Your neck pain may radiate to your head, trunk, shoulder, and arms. If your neck pain involves the compression of a nerve, you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in either of your arms or hands.
  • Headache. Pain that starts in your neck may also produce a headache called a cervicogenic headache.
  • Pain when palpated. Neck pain may increase if your cervical spine is palpated (physically examined).

Causes of neck pain

Neck pain or stiffness can happen for a variety of reasons.

Muscle tension and strain

This is usually from activities and behaviours such as:

  • Poor posture
  • working at a desk for too long without changing position
  • sleeping with your neck in a bad position
  • jerking your neck during exercise
  • injury

The neck is particularly vulnerable or injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligament of the neck are forced to move outside of their normal rage.

If the neck bones (cervical vertebrae) are fractured, the spinal cord may also be damaged. Neck injury from sudden jerking of the head is commonly called whiplash.

Heart attack

Neck pain can also a symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, arm or jaw pain

If your neck hurts and you have other symptoms of heart attack, call an ambulance or go to the emergency room immediately.


is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. In people who have meningitis, they may experience stiff neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and fever. Meningitis can be fatl and is a medical emergency.

Other causes of neck pain include the following:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, neck pain can result.
  • Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures. This condition often happens in hands or knees, but it can also occur in the neck.
  • Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.

when to see you doctor? If symptoms persist for more than a week, consult a doctor