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The neck is made up of seven vertebrae, called cervical vertebrae, which are interlocking bones separated by disks. This combination allows for both mobility and stability. However, that does not mean it is immune to occasional or chronic pain. Neck pain is a seemingly universal problem. While there are many causes, inflammation, injury, and overuse are by far the most common. Take a look at some of the most common reasons your neck could be bothering you.

Possible Causes

There are numerous reasons your neck could be hurting, ranging from minor to very serious. Be sure to consult a doctor when experiencing neck pain, especially if it continues to persist. 

Muscle Strain

This type of pain usually presents as a throbbing or aching feeling, especially when moving the head. Bad posture, lack of neck support while sleeping, and sitting for too long are common causes of muscle strain. 

Cervical Spondylosis

Also known as cervical disk generation, this occurs when the disks in between the vertebrae in your neck begin to wear down. The increased friction and tension between those bones can cause stiffness and pain. This becomes more common as people age. 


The neck is particularly susceptible to injury because there is only a thin layer of muscle and ligaments protecting it. Motor vehicle accidents, impact sports, falls, and weight lifting can all cause damage to the neck area, resulting in pain. 

Cervical Radiculopathy

When a nerve root becomes compressed or irritated in the neck, it can cause a pinched nerve or severe radiating pain as well as muscle weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the arms or hands. 

Spinal Stenosis

When the spinal canal narrows, it can put pressure on the nerves, resulting in neck pain. The pain is usually worse with activity, but that is not always the case. Common causes are osteoarthritis, tumors, birth defects, and Paget’s disease. 


This disease causes inflammation around the membranes that surround the brain and spine. Stiffness in the neck is a common cause, but fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting may also occur. This illness is very dangerous when left untreated. Seek medical attention if you feel you may have this. 


Cancers of the head and neck commonly cause neck pain as a result of their symptoms and locations. These types of cancer are not as common, with only 4% of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S. being related to the neck.