Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain & How to Relieve It    

One of the most common reasons people visit the doctor each year is for neck pain. Whether you work long hours hunched over a computer or suffered from a recent injury, neck pain can wreak havoc on your daily routines and quality of life. When neck pain occurs along with pain elsewhere in the body, this can make everyday movements and activities even more uncomfortable. Neck and shoulder pain can happen at the same time for a variety of reasons. Continue reading to learn more about how to relieve shoulder and neck pain so you can experience lasting relief.

What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain?

What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain

There are many possible causes of neck and shoulder pain.

Neck and Shoulder Muscle Strain

Your neck and shoulders have a series of muscles that work together to support common movements like turning your head from side to side and raising your arms. Overuse or sudden movements can cause one of these muscles to become strained in either the neck or shoulder area. Muscle strain in the neck or shoulders can cause pain and restricted mobility in the area.

Cervical Herniated Disc

The cervical spine refers to the first seven vertebrae of your spine that are located in the neck. In between each vertebra are spinal discs, which are spongy and act as shock absorbers for various neck movements. One of these discs can become torn, resulting in a cervical herniated disc. A herniated disc can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the neck that may radiate into the shoulder and arm.

Poor Sleeping Posture Causing Shoulder & Neck Pain

Poor posture while you sleep can also cause shoulder and neck pain. When you sleep with your neck bent at an odd angle, like with a too-soft or too-firm pillow, you could end up with shoulder pain and discomfort the next day. Chronic poor sleeping posture can result in restricted neck or shoulder mobility and pain with certain movements.


Whiplash most commonly occurs in car accidents, like a fender bender or rear-end collision. The sudden force of impact can cause your head and neck to snap forward and backward violently, resulting in a whiplash injury. Whiplash can cause your neck muscles to strain outside their normal range of motion, leading to pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.

Shoulder Tendinitis or Bursitis

Inflammation of soft tissues in the neck and shoulders can also result in pain and discomfort. Tendinitis in the shoulder refers to inflammation in the tendons that support the shoulder joint. Bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that help cushion joints like the shoulder.

Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical spondylosis is a degenerative health condition that affects the cervical spine. Wear and tear of the bones, cartilage, and discs in the neck can occur over time, which is common with aging. This can lead to a narrowing of the spine and aggravate nearby nerves. Neck pain, stiffness, and headaches are common symptoms of cervical spondylosis.

Diagnosing Neck and Shoulder Pain

The best way to relieve neck and shoulder pain is to identify the root cause. When you visit your doctor to talk about neck and shoulder pain, they will typically use a combination of techniques to diagnose what is causing your symptoms. A thorough medical history will help your doctor get a better understanding of your health and any conditions that may impact your pain. Next, they will perform a physical examination of the area and may also check your range of motion. Diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays may be necessary to diagnose some conditions that cause neck and shoulder pain, like a recent injury. Talk to your doctor about when you first noticed the neck and shoulder pain and whether you have noticed any change in those symptoms over time.

Common Ways to Relieve Shoulder and Neck Pain

Common Ways to Relieve Shoulder and Neck Pain

There are several ways to relieve shoulder and neck pain, though certain options may work better depending on the underlying cause and severity of your pain. Here are some common ways to relieve neck and shoulder pain.

Rest & Ice

Resting the affected area is key to a full and swift recovery. Whether you are dealing with a recent injury or chronic pain, resting allows the body a chance to jumpstart its natural healing abilities. Applying ice to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time can also help reduce inflammation. Ice can provide a temporary numbing sensation that offers temporary pain relief.


Therapeutic massage can help increase blood flow to the area, bringing oxygen and other nutrients for proper healing. Massage also helps reduce tension by relaxing muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. You may not even realize how much tension you carry in your upper body until you notice an increase in pain and discomfort caused by an underlying condition.

Pain Management

Your doctor may recommend various options for pain management, which may include over-the-counter pain medications. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help alleviate mild to moderate neck and shoulder pain and inflammation. Other pain management options can include heat therapy, acupuncture, and deep breathing exercises for stress reduction.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help you work through the pain in your neck and shoulders. A physical therapist will provide you with stretches and exercises as you heal from a recent injury or manage a health condition causing you pain and discomfort.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is an all-natural treatment approach for neck and shoulder pain caused for a variety of reasons. A chiropractor will perform therapeutic chiropractic adjustments to help realign your spine and joints for healthier functioning. Chiropractic care can help reduce your pain and improve your mobility by addressing the source of your discomfort.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Shoulder and Neck Pain

Chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to treating a variety of health conditions, including what may be causing your neck and shoulder pain. A chiropractor will assess your spine to identify any misalignments that may disrupt the healthy flow of communication from your brain to the rest of your body. Even slight misalignments in the spine and other joints can cause pain and other symptoms, which can impact your overall health and functioning. Chiropractors use a hands-on, drug-free approach to treating a wide range of issues that may be causing your shoulder and neck pain. Chiropractic care can also include therapeutic massage, stretching, exercises, and additional techniques to help bring about lasting relief from your shoulder and neck pain.

Visit Affordable Chiropractic Killeen for a trusted neck pain chiropractor and get quality chiropractic care for your neck and shoulder pain today!