Why Does My Neck Hurt on the Right Side?

Neck pain on the right side can be caused by various issues involving muscles, joints, nerves, or bones in the cervical spine or surrounding areas. Here are some of the most common causes of right-sided neck pain and tips for finding relief.

Muscle Strain

Pulling neck muscles, overuse, or poor posture can lead to muscle tightness or spasms on one side of the neck. Sleeping in an awkward position may also cause neck muscles to become strained. Right-sided muscle pain may feel like a dull, achy soreness that worsens with movement. Applying heat, gentle stretches, and massage can help relax the muscles and restore range of motion.

Pinched Nerve

A herniated disc or bone spur in the cervical spine can press on a nerve root on the right side, causing numbness, tingling, or sharp pain in the neck that radiates down the arm. This is known as a pinched nerve. Seeking treatment from a physical therapist or doctor may be necessary to diagnose and address the cause of the pinched nerve.

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the cervical spine often leads to stiffness, swelling, and localized neck pain. The facet joints along the right side of the vertebrae may be especially affected. Anti-inflammatory medication and targeted exercises can provide arthritis pain relief. However, severe osteoarthritis may require injections or surgery for long-term management.

Whiplash Injury

Whiplash refers to neck pain and injury caused by sudden hyperextension and flexion of the neck, often due to a car accident. If the head is jerked to the right, the muscles and ligaments on the right side of the neck will be overstretched and may become inflamed. Applying ice packs, taking over-the-counter pain medication, using a soft cervical collar, and gentle range of motion exercises can all help reduce whiplash discomfort.

Poor Posture

Bad posture habits like holding the head forward can put extra strain on the muscles of the neck and cause discomfort or tightness, especially on one side. Try to maintain proper upright posture when sitting at a desk or looking at a phone or computer. Gentle neck stretches and strength training exercises may also fix muscle imbalances.

Pinched Blood Vessel

The right vertebral artery runs through the transverse foramen in the cervical vertebrae. If bone spurs press on this artery, it can cause sudden neck pain along with dizziness and headaches. See a doctor promptly for any severe neck pain along with neurological symptoms. Vascular testing may be needed to confirm a compressed vertebral artery.

Stress

Chronic stress and anxiety can manifest physically as muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. The right trapezius or sternocleidomastoid muscles may be particularly tight due to “stress knots.” Relaxation techniques, gentle massage, and hot compresses can help soothe stress-related neck discomfort.

Getting to the root cause of right-sided neck pain is essential for proper treatment. Pay attention to any other symptoms and talk to your doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days or causes concern. With rest and targeted stretching and strengthening exercises, most cases of right-sided neck pain can be resolved.