Right Side Neck Pain: 7 Possible Causes Plus Treatment Options

Written by Jamie Page
Physiotherapist, Salford University
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 21, 2022

Man working at a computer clutches the right side of his neck in pain

Right side neck pain is a common complaint due to muscle strain, poor sleeping or bad posture.[1] It is usually treated using home remedies and medications. It is best to see a doctor for severe or prolonged neck pain.

What are the symptoms of pain on the right side of the neck?

Pain on the right side of the neck is the main symptom. In addition, you can feel soreness, difficulty moving the neck on each side, stinging, burning pain, or tingling sensation, numbness, where the area may feel like it has fallen asleep, and muscle weakness.

7 Possible Causes of Right Side Neck Pain?

Pain on the right side of the neck is not usually serious. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture, whether leaning over your computer, hunching over your workbench or sleeping positions. Some other causes of neck pain include the following:

1. Muscle strain

You may notice that the neck hurts when you use devices like a computer or smartphone for a long time, drive long distances, or engage in work or hobbies that require extended periods of no movement with the head.

From this, your neck is likely to weaken, and when this occurs, the neck joint and bones become stiff, limiting the movement of your neck.[2] This causes contact with nerves and muscles when rotating the neck and pain.

2. Poor sleeping position

Poor or unusual sleeping position increases the likelihood of neck pain. Factors such as pillows and mattress quality are the main issues regarding sleep position.

3. Bad posture

Poor posture impacts the muscles directly near your neck and shoulders, with the spine, which causes neck pain. The longer the poor posture is not corrected, the weaker the muscles become which can increase the pain.

4. Anxiety or stress

Tension in your body occurs when you experience anxiety or stress. It could cause muscle tightness and joint stiffness, which result in spasms on your neck and shoulders when moving in a certain way.

5. Whiplash

Another term for neck sprain, whiplash, is usually caused by neck sprain and is common after motor vehicle accidents, roller coasters, and mostly when encountering a blunt force during a sports activity.

The mechanism of injury occurs when the muscles and ligaments of the neck are injured from abrupt movement in impact, by the head overextending and snapping back to its place immediately.[3]

6. Brachial plexus injury

When you play contact sports or a traumatic accident, an impact on the arm or neck could cause neck pain from the damage to the brachial plexus. It can result in function loss of the affected arm and neck pain.

7. Degenerative conditions

As we age, degeneration of the joints starts to compress the structures of the cervical area, causing pain in your neck. Conditions like arthritis, pinched nerve (cervical radiculopathy), inflammation of nerves or joints, cervical disc degeneration, and fractures of the cervical spine are a few examples of degenerative conditions.

Other sources of neck pain

Accidents happen and have associated symptoms of high fever, affectation of arms and legs, or a headache. If felt, medical attention is imperative to address these issues immediately.

How is pain on the right side of the neck treated?

Essentially, neck pain will usually heal after a few days, especially if it is on the right side. Although it is essential to know what can be done to alleviate or diminish the pain.[4]

Home-based treatments

  • Try taking over-the-counter-anti inflammatory medications to ease the inflammation and pain

  • Icing the injury to reduce pain in the area affected

  • Applying heat to the neck or taking a warm bath to relax the muscles from tension

  • Moving the neck gently from side to side

  • Stretching the muscles increases the neck’s range of motion and relieves pain

  • Getting someone to massage the area

  • Practising proper posture

  • Finding ergonomic ways to work on the computer or for other intensive tasks

  • Sleeping with just one pillow on a firm mattress

  • Reducing stress with relaxation methods like yoga or medication.

Doctor-prescribed treatments

When it does not go away on its own after a few days or weeks, your GP will find ways to treat your health concern. Firstly, they will take your health history and complete a physical examination. Other imaging tests may also be done to diagnose your specific condition, such as:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the soft tissues in the neck

  • Myelography to monitor any muscles that have been damaged due to nerve problems

  • CT scan, similar to a MRI, as a second line of confirmatory test

  • Electrodiagnostic studies.

Treatments for neck pain guided by your doctor may include:

  • Prescribing stronger pain-relieving medication compared to over-the-counter.

  • Corticosteroid injections directly at the site of the neck

  • Muscle relaxants

  • Physiotherapy

  • Surgery.

If the pain is severe or chronic, work with your doctor, and they will be able to suggest home-based treatments and other medical interventions for managing the symptoms.

What is the outlook for pain on the right side of the neck?

Neck pain usually goes away after a few days or weeks while taking up some of the listed home remedies and resting without straining your neck. In severe cases, like for those who had a traumatic accident, or sudden, it is best to check with your doctor about your concern.

The bottom line

Pain in the neck, on either side of it, is usually not serious and often is caused from straining the muscles, poor sleeping positions, or bad posture during everyday work or tasks. If this continues and is not relieved through treatment, see a physician for further advice on the best medical intervention and remedies.

Written by Jamie Page
Physiotherapist, Salford University
Published on July 21, 2022
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 21, 2022
Medical reviewers
Last medically reviewed on July 21, 2022
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