Understanding The Neck Muscles

Reading Time: 5 minutes Neck pain occurs when neck muscles become strained. The neck is comprised of 26 muscles which hold the head up and allow movement. The trapezius muscles start at the base of the neck and extend to the back. The platysma bone covers the collarbone and jaw area and the sternocleidomastoid muscles rest at either side of the neck. Any tension or strain related to these muscles will result in neck pain.

What causes neck strain?

Neck strain can result from a number of activities that overexert the neck muscles. Here are a few things that can lead to neck pain.

Poor posture

Poor posture is one of the main causes of neck pain, especially in the digital age. Staying hunched over a computer or cell phone for extended periods of time affects the body.

Herniated discs and bone spurs

These can occur in the spine and lead to neck pain by applying too much pressure on the nerves. Bone spurs are growths that form on lower back joints when cartilage breaks down.


Whiplash is a common occurrence after a car accident or sudden impact. Whiplash refers to the forceful jerking motion of the head and neck.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. People with RA typically have trouble moving joints and suffer from chronic pain.

Bad sleeping habits

The head and neck need support while resting. This is why pillows were invented. Lack of proper support will result in neck pain.

Getting treatment

A healthcare provider can help patients identify the cause of neck pain. For some types of pain, lifestyle changes can be beneficial like buying ergonomic furniture or practicing better posture. For disease-related neck pain, doctors can prescribe medication. In some cases, minimally invasive spine surgery can help alleviate neck pain. Once the cause of pain is determined, people are often refered to a neck and spine specialist to determine optimal treatment options.

Finding a doctor

A primary care provider can be the first step in addressing neck pain. These physicians can give referrals to other specialists that will assist patients with neck pain. Patients should consult with a healthcare provider to find the cause of neck pain and explore treatment options prior to making any major changes in lifestyle or exercise routine.


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