Information Regarding Types of Neck Pain

Sudden-onset neck pains are common. Two out of three people suffer from this at one point. In most cases, it is not due to a serious disease or neck problem and often the roots of the pain remain unclear. This is known as ‘nonspecific neck pain’. Most are probably a cause of minor sprains or poor posture. There are cases where full recovery takes place. The common advice is to maintain neck activity.

The neck

The back of the neck is composed of the cervical spine, surrounding muscles, and ligaments. The cervical spine includes seven bones called vertebrae. The first two feature different characteristics as they attach the spine to the skull and allow the head to turn from side to side. Meanwhile, the lower five cervical vertebrae hold a roughly cylindrical shape with bony projections.

In the middle of each vertebra lies a disc. These discs are made of a strong fibrous outer layer and a soft, gel-like inner portion. The discs serve as ‘shock absorbers’ and permit the spine flexible properties.

Capable ligaments attach to adjacent vertebrae to provide extra support and foundations. Various muscles connected to the spine permit the spine to bend and perform different movements.

Additionally, the spinal cord, which contains nervous tissue carrying messages to and from the brain, is protected by the spine. Nerves from the spinal cord emerge out from the middle of the vertebrae in the neck to deliver and receive messages to the neck and arms. A major blood vessel known as the vertebral artery also runs along the vertebrae to convey blood to the rear part of the brain.

Common types and causes of neck pain

Nonspecific neck pain

The most common type of neck pain, this is sometimes called ‘simple’ or ‘mechanical’. Oftentimes, the roots of the pain are unknown. It may include minor strains to muscles or ligaments from past activities. On the other hand, bad posture may also be a contributing factor in certain cases.

Wear and Tear

Degeneration of the spinal bones (vertebrae) and the discs between the vertebrae is a common reason for recurring or persistent neck pain in older people. This is sometimes appointed as cervical spondylosis.

Sudden-onset torticollis

This is sometimes referred to as ‘wry neck’. A torticollis is when the head becomes twisted to one side and it is painful to move the head back to its straight and proper position. The cause of acute primary torticollis is often undefined.

However, it may be a cause of a minor strain or sprain to a muscle or ligament in the neck. Some cases may be caused by exposure to cold. It is a common case where people go to bed feeling fine and to wake up the next morning with an acute torticollis. Usually, the pain eases and clears away without needing treatment.

Possible treatments for nonspecific neck pain


There is no question that regular exercise is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways of treating nonspecific neck pain. Aim to keep moving as normally as possible. Initially, the pain may be bad for a few days and those experiencing pain may need to rest for a day or two. However, gently exercise the neck as soon as you are able. The muscles should not be left to stiffen up. Gradually try to increase the range of the neck movements, and gently move the neck in each direction every few hours. Perform the exercise several times a day.


Painkillers are also effective instruments, including:

  • Paracetamol
  • Codeine
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers (ibuprofen, diclofenac, or naproxen)
  • Muscle relaxants

Good posture

Good posture can be of great help when it comes to treating neck pains. Observe proper sitting position whenever at work or at the computer. Sit upright. Yoga, pilates, and other related activities can improve next posture.

Supporting pillow

Some find supporting pillows to help when sleeping. In addition, sleeping with no more than one pillow can also help reduce neck pains.


Various treatments may be recommended by a physiotherapist such as traction, heat, cold, manipulation, and other activities. The value of these treatments remains uncertain, but performing neck exercises may be of help.