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Top 5 causes of neck pain

Top 5 causes of neck pain

24th April 2018

Have you noticed that your neck pain is becoming a pain in the neck? Have you tried ignoring it but it’s gone from a little niggle to a prominent nagging ache? Do you think ‘I should really get that looked at’ and keep finding the days slipping by without any remedy? Unfortunately, office and computer workers have a higher incidence of neck pain (Hoy et. al 2010). We explore the most commonly seen causes of neck pain and share some quick and easy tips to prevent pain from reoccurring.

Your neck is anatomically known as the cervical spine and consists of 7 bones. It’s a very important structure that is required to hold our heads up against gravity. Neck pain can come from the joints of these bones, the muscles and ligaments surrounding or the blood and/or nerve supply. Pain can be acute or chronic, sharp or achy and local or generalised.


Bad desk posture

1. Desk posture
An incorrect sitting position such as sitting at an angle, having your screen and/or mouse position at the wrong angle, and not taking regular breaks from the desk can all contribute to neck pain.

2. “Text-Neck”
An increasingly common cause of neck pain is the overuse of mobile phones. Looking down at your device can cause strain and pain in the neck.

3. Carrying heavy handbags
Heavy handbags cause muscular pull and strain constantly on one side of the neck, which can lead to neck pain.

4. Incorrect gym technique
The new year is a popular time for people to hit the gym, but incorrect techniques or lifting weights that are too heavy for you can cause neck pain.

5. Sleeping position
Sleep on your tummy? You’re more likely to experience neck pain than back sleepers, as this position can cause strain to the neck.

If you experience neck pain, how many of the Top 5 causes of neck pain are you doing every day?


Neck stretch

If you do one or more of the above things, you could be inadvertently causing your neck pain to continue. We share our 9 easy tips on reducing neck pain.

1. Change the set up of your computer, desk and chair
Raise the screen of your desktop or laptop so your eyes are level with the top of the screen margin, or even better ask your workplace for an ergonomic assessment of your desk set up. Check out our handy ergonomic set up for your workstation guide.

2. Avoid “Text-Neck”
If you sit on the couch using your phone, place a cushion or two on your lap to raise the screen nearer your eyes. This will help prevent you from looking down so far and straining your neck.

3. Spread the weight of heavy bags
Use a backpack so the weight is more evenly distributed across your shoulders. If this isn’t possible, swap shoulders regularly to even the load.

4. Check your gym technique
Have a session with a personal trainer at your gym and ask them to assess your technique. Your osteopath can also advise you on correct weight lifting techniques.

5. Try different sleeping positions
Aim to sleep on your back or side. Ensure you have the right type of pillows so your neck and head are at a good angle to the rest of your body. Use 1 medium pillow or 2 low-level pillows when sleeping on your side or back.

Using earphones

5. Use an earpiece
Constantly on the phone and often hold it between your ear and shoulder? Use an earpiece so you can avoid tilting your head and neck.

6. Stay hydrated
Drink more water to improve your circulation, flush away toxins and help the neck muscles function at their optimum.

7. Stretch regularly
Particularly focus on your neck and upper back muscles.

8. Take regular breaks
Repetitive activities can cause fatigue with the muscles, so take regular breaks from your activities so your muscles can relax.


If you think your neck pain may be caused by one or more of the Top 5 causes of neck pain, then Osteopathy treatment may be for you. Your Osteopath will help to identify the cause of your pain, treat the cause and your symptoms and arm you with even more ways to improve and avoid your neck pain.


This article is for information purposes only. Please consult your Osteopath or primary healthcare professional for further information.