Your head is pretty heavy (about 5kg or 11lbs) and you carry it around on this little structure called your neck, all day.

Desk work, car accidents, sports injuries, horse riding falls, even rock concerts and roller coasters… all of these can affect your neck and cause future problems.

It’s not uncommon for people to say they just woke up one morning with neck pain. As always, the problem’s likely to have been building up for a while.


Remember this is not a diagnostic, but gives you an idea of the different causes of pain

Facet Joint Pain

If you turn your head and tip backwards a little, and your neck pain gets worse, it may be a sign that the facet joints are involved. They live at the back of the spine (including the neck) linking the vertebrae together.

Cervical Disc Pain

Disc damage can start with some form of trauma like a car accident or sports injury, even a long time ago. Then it can suddenly come on with no obvious trigger, although looking down a lot can be a factor. When a disc in the neck is damaged and touches a nerve, it can also cause pain, numbness or pins & needles in the arms.

Muscular Pain

Muscle pain and tightness is pretty common when you have any sort of problem with the neck, as the body is trying to protect it by tightening everything up. So as well as helping the muscles, we need to look for the reason they’re tight in the first place. We often treat muscle pain and stiffness with acupuncture and/or deep tissue massage, as well as chiropractic adjustments.

Radicular Pain

This is pain from a trapped nerve. The nerves from the your neck mainly go down your arms to your fingers, and some over your head. Nerve symptoms can include pain, numbness, weakness or pins & needles in your arms.

Image by Frank Netter.


An x-ray of your neck seen from the side, should show a nice backward curve (32 degrees if you want to be precise), a bit like a banana. The curve gives it an in-built stability and holds your head up with no effort. If it’s too straight or bent the wrong way, from an old minor injury for example, it loses this strength and the muscles have to take over (and get tight and sore). It can also make everything wear our faster.