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What Neck Pain on the Left Side Means

a woman with neck pain

The human body is a complicated structure made of trillions of cells. These cells combine to form tissues that gather and make organs. Different organs collectively include organ systems, and these systems run our bodies.

Basic stuff, yet it all is complex, connected, and sometimes mysterious. The neck, part of the skeletal system, is crucial to our overall bodily structure. It provides support and structure to our heads, connects the cervical spinal cord to our brains, and gives home to essential blood vessels to circulate throughout our bodies. The neck muscles are exceptionally delicate, and even a minor injury or sprain can lead to dangerous results.

Neck pain on left side

Neck pain ranked among the top five pains in the world. Temporary neck pain, particularly of the left side, can be caused by fatigue, an improper sleeping position, and irritating daily activities.

To be more literal, the neck pain we experience is caused by inflammation, muscle strain, or tension. While there aren't any severe and specific causes behind neck pain on the left side, persistent pain means something is wrong.

What causes neck pain on the left side?

Neck pain on the left side has several reasons, from mild and common to severe and rare.

Most common causes

Tension or muscle strain

Tension and muscle strain are some of the biggest culprits behind pain on the neck's left side. When the tendon or neck muscle is torn or overstretched, muscle strain occurs. Tension in muscle is when it doesn't relax fully after contracting. These are caused by:

  1. Sitting or leaning forward for a long time
  2. An awkward sleeping position like with twisted or bent neck
  3. During exercise, when you put too much force on muscles of the neck
  4. Stress
  5. Worn joints with age
  6. Compression of nerves
  7. Falling or crashing into someone cause whiplash
  8. Cradling the phone between shoulder and ears


Forceful back and forth head thrusting causes whiplash. The reason includes accidents and during sports like football. Whiplash causes pain in the left side of the neck, headache, and muscle stiffness. Bufferin and OTC pain medicines are generally recommended to treat whiplash.

Cervical radiculopathy

When nerve fibers get irritated or get squeezed on the neck's left side, it can cause pain there. Your shoulder may be numb too.

Acute torticollis

If neck muscles contract so that the head twists to one side, it is called acute torticollis. Turning like this might cause neck pain on the left side.

Less common causes

Degeneration of cervical disk

Vertebral bones have disks between them. They are flexible, rigid, and act as shock absorbers. These disks might get weak, and their outer covering (annulus fibrosus) tears with time. With its breakage, the disks' internal material come out and accumulate on the spinal cord.


Inflammation caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus causes neck pain. Meningitis causes headaches and muscle stiffness. If it remains untreated, it will lead to seizures and brain swelling.

Cervical Fracture

The first seven bones of the vertebrae are called cervical vertebrae. Fracture on any of these bones caused by accidents, sports, or other injuries causes broken necks.

Herniated cervical disk

When the outer covering of cervical disks worn out, nerves get pressed and pushes the nucleus to one side is known as a herniated cervical disk. Pressured nerves cause neck pain, numbness, stiffness, and arm pain.

Rare causes

Congenital anomalies

Congenital cervical vertebrae anomalies and torticollis in newborn babies cause pain on both sides of their neck. These occur during birth injuries and some unknown reasons.

Spinal tumor

An abnormal cell started growing in the spinal cord or vertebrae, cancerous or benign, called a spinal tumor. Spinal tumors cause muscle weakness, neck pain, and severe inflammation.

When to seek help?

Continual pain that doesn't improve on its means it's time to consult with a professional.

Visit the doctor immediately if you feel that your neck pain started running to your arms or you started getting numbness with tingling.

Doctors will first physically examine you and ask for your medical history. If they didn't get to the actual cause from there, they would recommend you to go through X-rays, CT scans, and MRI.

Treatment of neck pain on the left side

Most of the treatments depend on the severity and diagnosis. For mild pain, take a hot bath or shower. You can also try using a hot water bottle, neck massage, use of a neck pillow. It will relax neck muscles and give you relief.

If recommended by a doctor, you can seek a physiotherapist's help. He will give you tips for better posture, movement through various exercises.

If neck pain is prolonged, doctors might give corticosteroid injections to you. These lessen the pain and inflammation in the neck.

When the neck bones are fractured, or nerve cords are severely compressed, surgery is usually the answer. However, minor fractures usually only need a neck collar as treatment.

Neck pain on the left side is not a thing to ignore.

Proper diagnosis and treatment are required to cure it. While rare, undiagnosed or untreated neck pain can elevate to a permanent disability. Neck pain is not something you have to live with- even if you may consider the pain relatively mild. Don't let pain affect your quality of life, and get help with a compassionate specialist.

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