Common Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain

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The muscles of the neck and shoulder help to perform many important tasks such as supporting the head. However, due to the daily demands on these structures, the neck and shoulder are prone to injuries as well.

Below, we’ve listed down the most common causes of neck pain and shoulder pain to help you better understand why they happen and how to prevent yourself from suffering from it.

Soft Tissue Injury

Soft tissue injury is easily the most common cause of pain in the neck and shoulder. This is usually due to the result of trauma – such as being hit with a blunt object hard. Soft tissue injury could also occur due to overexertion, such as lifting weights that are too heavy for what you can currently handle as well as not giving your body enough time to rest in between sets or repetitions. People can also wake up with pain in the neck/shoulder from sleeping in awkward positions (this is probably more common than being hit by a blunt object).

Depending on the root of the problem, releases to tightened muscle structures in the neck/shoulder or even mobilisation into the neck would be beneficial in pain relief. After the muscles are released, strengthening exercises would also benefit the recovery from soft tissue injury and prevent a recurrence.


Whiplash is a type of neck injury that generally happens when there’s a sudden jerking motion forward or backwards, sometimes even both. This is very common in vehicle accidents, but whiplash can occur in other settings as well where you are being thrown forward by a strong force and pulled to a sudden stop.

Whiplash can also cause pain all over the upper back and neck region, affecting the muscles, discs, and even the ligaments.

Whiplash also doesn’t just cause pain in the neck and shoulders, other symptoms could also be experienced, such as feeling dizzy, and having a headache or overall stiffness in your neck and shoulders. The recovery period varies from individual to individual; for some, it can take only a week, or last as long as a few months, depending on the extent of the injury as well.

Whiplash treatment is best managed by taking anti-inflammatory medication and avoiding any rigorous physical activity in the meantime. You can also use ice packs to reduce the pain and swelling, followed by applying moist heat with warm wet towels or warm baths after the initial swelling has subsided.

Physiotherapy treatment should be sought after the swelling has subsided in order for a faster recovery process. Firstly, there is spasming in the neck muscles to try to protect damaged structures/tissue, and if left unattended it could result in chronic pain and stiffness in the neck.

Proprioception is one key component in dealing with whiplash injuries as patients tend to experience diminished proprioceptive feedback into the neck. This means they are not sure of how their neck is moving in space. As such, this can predispose them to further injuries as well as episodes of headaches and dizziness.

Poor Posture

Poor posture can lead to a number of health problems, shoulder and neck pain included. This is because a bad form can add unnecessary strain on your muscles and ligaments, especially around your shoulders and neck.

Regular exercise has been proven to help improve posture as well as muscle tone. Don’t forget to stretch every now and then while working as well, especially if you’re in front of a desk for many hours every day.

If your neck and shoulder pain aren’t showing any signs of going away anytime soon, you should visit a clinic that offers private physiotherapy in Singapore. You will benefit from getting your condition assessed by a medical professional with a proper treatment plan to guide you along.