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5 surprising causes of neck pain

Cannon Hill neck blog

When we say something (or someone!) is a ‘pain in the neck’ we usually mean that it’s annoying or tedious. That’s an apt description of literal neck pain too.

Neck pain takes several forms. Your neck may be stiff, leading to a decreased range of motion. You may experience a sharp, stabbing pain in one area. It may hurt to move your neck, whether from side to side or up and down. If your neck pain involves the compression of a nerve, you may also experience numbness, tingling and weakness in your arms or hands.

The strengths and weaknesses of the neck

Your neck may be small but it’s certainly significant.

Your neck’s key functions include:

  • Supporting the (relatively heavy) load of your skull
  • Allowing you to turn your head in each direction so you can scan your surroundings
  • Housing and protecting your spinal cord, which enables your brain to communicate with your body
  • Enabling food and other nutrients to pass from your mouth to your digestive system.

Your neck is a short column that contains many important structures including joints, discs, nerves and many soft tissues. The most common causes of neck pain usually relate to one of these structures. But what about some less common causes?

5 surprising causes of neck pain

Like the rest of your body, your neck is affected by everything else going on in your life.


1. Stress

Work pressure, increased living costs and the ongoing strain of the pandemic – it’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing ongoing stress.

Stress has many physical effects. It may disrupt sleep, cause stomach problems and lead to increased muscle tension.

When your muscles become clenched and wound up, you may find that you’re holding a lot of tension in your jaw, neck or shoulders. That can lead to neck pain.

If you’re feeling ‘wound up’, the good news is that you can be ‘unwound’. Chiropractic can help to ease muscle tension so that your neck functions more effectively.


2. Lack of movement within the neck

If you drive a car or ride a bike, you’ll be familiar with the need to ‘oil the machine’ to keep it lubricated.

The joints in your neck have a similar need for lubrication. Behind each of your cervical vertebrae sits a pair of facet joints containing synovial fluid. That synovial fluid lubricates the joint and protects the surrounding cartilage.

The basic message here is that moving your neck lubricates your joints. If you’re experiencing a stiff neck, then review the usual pattern of your days. Are you spending a lot of time with your neck held in one place? If so, try to break up your day and move your neck more frequently.


3. Loading over time  

When properly positioned on the shoulders, the average human head weighs about 5 kg – more than a newborn baby. However, when you tilt your head down (to check your phone, for example), the force on your neck increases. Tilt your head far forward and you might as well have an 8-year-old sat on your neck.

That’s not necessarily a problem if it only happens occasionally. But if your neck is under an additional load time and time again, you may well find that you’re experiencing neck pain.

What can you do about it? Listen to your body and move. Adjust your desk, lift your phone to your eye level and check your posture regularly – pull your head back above your shoulders if you realise your chin is sticking out or your head is tilting down.


4. Referred pain

If you step on your dog’s tail, the poor animal will probably bark. The mouth is the noisy part – but the tail is the real problem.

Referred pain is a little like that. There are many intricate connections below your body’s surface. That means that you may feel pain in one area when the real cause lies somewhere else.

One common cause of referred pain is dural tension.

The dura mater has a significant input to your central nervous system. The dura is a tough protective covering around your brain and spinal cord. Its outer layer attaches to the inside of your skull and at various points along your spine, particularly at the top and bottom.

If you’ve got stiffness in your hips or shoulders, it may create a pull or tension on your dura. That can play a role in neck pain.


5. Compensation 

Your body’s different structures work together as a team. If one part of your body is injured or overworked, the rest of your body pitches in to help you. That’s called compensation. In time, though, it can create additional pain because now other parts of your body are working overtime too.

If that’s the case, it’s important to treat the original problem and to relieve any additional tension on other structures such as your neck.


How Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre can help

At Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre, we want to help your body feel good and function well.

We use a specific gentle technique called NeuroImpulse Protocol (NIP) that identifies where corrections are to be applied. NIP unlocks function, restoring joint movement and resolving muscle activation.

When joints move well and muscles activate appropriately, function is restored which is a major domino that needs to fall to eliminate / improve Neck Pain.

Book an appointment today.



All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre can consult with you to confirm if this treatment is right for you.


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