What are the 4 most common types of neck pain?

What are the 4 most common types of neck pain?

Neck pain is ‘a pain in the neck’ and can be more than that if it is left for too long and can impact our day to day lives and often can be debilitating.

This blog highlights the 5 most common types of neck pain and how they are caused. If you can see yourself in one of these, I will try to show you how you to get rid of it.

  1. Muscle Spasm

There are a lot of muscles either side of the neck that control the movement, we are NOT owls, so our muscles prevent the neck from rotating all the way round. However, it still has very good range, one of the signs that someone has a muscle spasm is that they notice it when they are reversing the car and having to turn their head, this can be painful.


Getting up too quickly or turning your head too quickly.

Not warming up before exercise, for example, jumping straight on to the first tee on the golf course and pulling a muscle in your neck

Desk based posture or tech neck

Seeping with incorrect pillows


Tight muscles either side of the neck or both sides

Pain gets better once you have warmed up

What to do:

Stretch the muscles using the upper trapezius stretch-

Ensuring your nose is pointing forwards, bend your neck as if you were taking your left ear towards your left shoulder. Use your hand to gently pull your head a little further, creating a stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Now repeat to the right. This exercise will help improve mobility to your neck.

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2. Arthritis of the neck

This is due to ageing or damage and is irreversible. Sometimes it is even unavoidable as we get older. It is more common in younger people as we sit for longer now and use smartphones.


Ageing causes wear and tear on the joints

Trauma such as a car accident or fall

Desk based posture over a long period


Neck pain and stiffness that is there constantly at a low level

Grinding or clicking when rotating the neck

What to do:

If you have experienced a trauma then seek help immediately, a lot of our clients have a fall or accident, and they leave it thinking they are fine. How you feel and how you heal are different things.

Keeping the neck mobile by stretching regularly and taking breaks when sitting at a desk are key.

Try this stretch the wall angel to improve your posture-

Stand with your feet a few inches from a wall. Place your arms at shoulder level, with your elbows bent. Slide your elbows up the wall as far as feels comfortable. Keep your shoulder blades drawn back and down. Return to the start position. This exercise can help improve shoulder mobility and posture. Slow and controlled movements.

3. Radiculopathy (Pinched/Trapped Nerve)

This occurs when a nerve gets trapped in the neck from a tight muscle or a prolapsed disc. The most common discs to cause this issue are in the middle to base of the neck at C5-7. It needs to be managed effectively as this is one of the worst types of neck pain.


Prolapsed Disc

Arthritic changes in the bones causing narrowing (stenosis) of the foramen (holes nerve come out of)

Tight muscle from a spasm


Shooting, tingling, nerve pain from the shoulder all the way down the arm and often into the fingers

Weakness of the shoulder or fingers, for example an inability to grip or open jars. Not to be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What to do:

Get a diagnosis as to what is causing the problem, If it is arthritis then you need to lengthen the neck using a traction wedge to try and restore the space between the vertebra.

If it is a disc prolapse you need to get pressure off the disc, this may require help from a professional.

4. Headaches

Tension headaches can go from the neck all the way up to the head, from the back of the head all the way round to behind the eyes.


Desk based posture

Stress can cause tension in the neck muscles leading to headaches


Dull, aching pain from the back of the head to behind the eyes

Movement can make the pain worse especially if you suffer from migraines or cluster headaches

What to do:

If you are sensitive to light, then lie in a dark room with an ice pack over your forehead

If you feel the tightness coming on, try to stretch the neck out and increase the mobility otherwise the muscles stiffen up.

Seek help from a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist to help take pressure off the neck

Massage the base of the neck and skull with a ball-

Stand up straight, with good posture, and place a spiky ball between your neck and a wall. Gently massage your neck by rolling the neck muscles over the ball. Concentrate on elongating your neck, and keep your shoulders relaxed. This is a good exercise for releasing muscle tension and fatigue in the neck.

Book a consultation with a Chiropractor here

If you do know someone who wants more advice, please send them our details. You can send them this assessment as well to diagnose their back pain. It is a great tool to understand where your back pain is coming from, it is free and takes 60 seconds. Click here for assessment

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