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4 Possible Causes of Neck Stiffness and Pain

Neck pain is an accepted fact of life for many adults, given that at least 10 percent of adults at any given time are dealing with these symptoms. For most of these adults, the issue is chronic and often goes untreated because it’s misunderstood as a minor problem.

However, as neck pain specialists will tell you, neck pain can be a symptom of a larger issue and is often easily resolvable with proper care. Here are four reasons that you could be dealing with neck pain and stiffness and why they cause these symptoms.

An older man grimacing in neck pain and touching his neck.

Muscle or Ligament Strains

Muscle or ligament strain is one of the most common reasons for chronic low to mid-level neck pain, couple with stiffness. Although several reasons can cause muscle or ligament strains, most adult professionals often deal with neck pain because of long hours at a desk, bad sleeping positions, or poor posture.

This kind of pain often improves with regular movements but comes back quickly unless the root cause is addressed.

Nerve Compression

Nerve compression or cervical radiculopathy is a side-effect of a problem in the spine. The spine is made of a stacked row of bones, interwoven with spinal disks. When a spinal disk near the neck moves out of its position, it can press against the area’s nerves, which can cause neck pain.

This condition can be resolved by both medication and physical therapy services for the patient.

Injury-Based Pain

Another reason for neck pain comes from injuries. Injuries from improper exercise, sports, and movement can cause the neck to jerk back, causing strains in the neck’s tissues that are soft and easily hurt. This can also happen because of a car accident or similar trauma.

Injury-based pain needs to be checked out by a doctor or even a spine specialist, depending on how severe the full injury was to ascertain the total damage.


Osteoporosis is an age-based condition that essentially means that your bones are degrading slowly as the bone tissue breaks down but does not build back. This can cause bones to weaken, develop holes, and break more easily.

Osteoporosis can cause compression fractures in the spine and near the neck. With repeated fractures over time, nerves in the area can become compressed, which can cause stiffness and sharp pain.

A working woman presses her fingers against her neck to alleviate neck pain.

When to See A Doctor

There are many more reasons you could be having neck pain, which is why if you’re dealing with it over a more extended period, it’s best to get it checked out anyway. The doctor may recommend going to a spine center, refer you to a physical therapist, or recommend another course of treatment entirely, depending on your case.

If you’re suffering from neck stiffness or pain and need a doctor in your area, you can find one here. At Houston Physicians Hospital, we offer a range of medical care services, including surgery. Simply choose your doctor and make your appointment directly with his or her office.