A Complete Guide on the Main Types of Neck Pain

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Oct 12, 2022 11:47:00 AM

About 75% of the population will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Meanwhile, 5% have developed a lasting disability as a result of their symptoms. If you're struggling with chronic neck pain, don't hesitate to seek help.

Low back and neck pain now rank third in total healthcare costs within the US annually. Neck pain also ranks fourth as a leading cause of disability worldwide. 

Here are a few types of neck pain you might begin experiencing over time. If these issues sound familiar, you don't have to keep living with neck pain. Instead, recognize it's time to begin treatment.

Read on to learn more. 


Headaches are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. In fact, almost half of the adult population has had at least one headache in the past year. About 1.7 to 4% of the world's adult population experiences headaches 15 or more days every month. 

A headache could indicate you're experiencing different types of neck injuries, including muscle tension or spasms in the neck. You might feel a headache form against the upper neck or back of the head as a result of these neck injuries.

Most patients who develop a neck-related headache describe the pain as either aching or dull. You might also experience neck stiffness and tenderness.

In some cases, moving your neck can make the headache feel worse.

If you begin experiencing headaches, neck stiffness, and pain, visit a pain management specialist. They can help you by determining the root cause of your neck pain. Instead of treating a symptom, you can treat the underlying issue for a better outcome. 

Muscle Spasm

Muscle spasms are spontaneous, sudden, and painful contractions of a muscle. A neck spasm can cause tightness and pain. You might also find it difficult to move your head in one or more directions.

Some patients wake up with a stiff neck, accompanied by pain, due to a muscle spasm.

You could develop a muscle spasm in the neck due to an injured muscle. Muscle spasms can also develop due to spinal disc or nerve problems. Even emotional stress can cause a muscle spasm to develop over time. 

Muscle Pain

One of the most common types of neck pain is muscle pain. A tear, sprain, or strain can cause inflammation, leading to pain and discomfort.

Your healthy muscle tissue includes numerous muscle fibers. These fibers are bundled together to form a single muscle. Within each fiber are bundled myofibrils.

Myofibrils are bundles within bundles. They contain contractile proteins that are able to perform muscle contractions.

If a muscle is overextended, small tears will form in one or more layers of the connective tissue. As a result, the muscle can weaken, leading to muscle pain. 

The more intense the muscle strain is, the more inflammation will occur. You could experience pain and swelling as a result. A more intense injury will lead to a longer recovery period.

Don't hesitate to seek treatment if you develop a strain or sprain. Instead, learn how to get rid of neck pain from a licensed professional. 

Otherwise, sprained and strained neck muscles can develop into trigger points over time. These hard knots are tender to the touch. They can cause further muscle pain and soreness if you avoid treatment.

Beginning treatment right away can help ease your pain, improving your quality of life without further difficulties. 

Bone Pain

Injury or disease to the soft tissue structure of the cervical spine often causes neck pain and related symptoms. In some cases, however, the bones in your neck can cause pain symptoms as well. 

For example, you might experience pain and tenderness in the cervical vertebrae. Though it's more likely the pain is due to soft tissues, you might require medical attention right away. Otherwise, the issue might indicate a more severe problem.

Bone pain might also indicate a fracture or bone weakness. These issues can destabilize your cervical spinal column. As a result, you could put your spinal cord at risk without treatment. 

Referred Pain

Referred pain occurs when you experience pain in one part of the body that affects another area. For example, you might experience shoulder pain during a heart attack. When experiencing neck pain, you might also experience referred pain in the:

  • Heart
  • Esophagus
  • Other organ symptoms

If you begin experiencing pain symptoms, visit a physician right away. They can determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. They can also determine if your symptoms indicate a more serious condition.

Nerve Pain

Each vertebra is an exit point for the nerves branching off your spinal cord. If there's damage or inflammation near one of these exit points, it can irritate or pinch the nerve root. You'll experience pain that's:

  • Pull or sharp
  • Constant or fleeting
  • Accompanied by burning sensations
  • Pins and needles

The symptoms you experience might vary based on which nerve is involved. For example, you might also experience pain that shoots down your arm. Sometimes, nerve pain can also impact specific motions or get worse with movement. 

Facet Joint Pain

Your facet joints are located in the vertebral column where two adjacent vertebrae meet. Arthritic degradation over time or an acute injury at these joints can cause neck pain. You might notice the pain is sharp, aching, or deep. 

You might notice the pain is worse:

  • In the morning
  • When applying pressure to the joint
  • When moving your neck
  • After extended periods of inactivity

The pain might also radiate from the upper back or shoulder, causing discomfort throughout your entire body.

If you develop neck injuries or experience chronic neck pain, visit a specialist to begin treatment. 

Seek Treatment for These Types of Neck Pain Today

If you begin experiencing these different types of neck pain, don't hesitate to visit a specialist. Understanding the root causes of your neck pain can help you begin the best course of treatment. Instead of trying to ease your symptoms, you can tackle the problem at the source. 

Ease your pain to improve your quality of life. Stop living with neck pain today!

Schedule an appointment today to get started. 

Topics:types of neck pain