Neck Pain On Left Side: Causes and Treatment

The neck has a lot of functions like moving the head and helping out with swallowing as we eat. Due to the many functions and movements of the neck, it is prone to injuries that can cause pain.

Cause Of Left-Sided Neck Pain

1. Poor Posture

A poor sleeping posture can place a lot of stress on the neck. Sleeping with your neck under stress can strain the muscles and cause left-sided neck pain if you are a left-sided sleeper.

Sitting in a particular position for a long period of time can also affect the muscles of the neck. Bending over a laptop for hours or using your phone for a prolonged period can overwork the muscles and lead to neck pain.


2. Whiplash Injury

A whiplash injury usually happens in a car accident. Whiplash happens when there is a backward and forward movement of the neck. This can cause a strain on the muscles and pain.

3. Spasms

A spasm is an involuntary sudden contraction of the muscles. It can cause neck pain.

4. Degenerative Neck Changes

As we grow older, the joints in the neck can begin to wear out and this can cause the cervical vertebral bones to rub against each other. This process is known as a degenerative change and can lead to intense pain in the neck.

5. Pinched Nerve

Nerves originate from the neck to supply our arms. Due to degenerative changes or tight muscles, these nerves can be pinched or compressed, causing neck pain.

6. Muscle Strain

A strain is an injury to the muscles. When it happens to the neck muscles on the left side, it can cause pain at that side of the neck. The muscle can be injured if it is overstretched or torn.


7. Tight Muscles

Muscles in the neck can get tight due to improper positioning of the neck. An example is placing your phone between your left ear and left shoulder while you are busy with your hands.

If this is repeated every day for long periods of time, the muscles on the left side of the neck may get tight and may eventually lead to pain.

8. Heart Attack

Sometimes neck pain can be a symptom of a heart attack. In this case, it is usually accompanied by other symptoms like chest discomfort, tightness, jaw pain, difficulty breathing, and nausea.

When To See a Doctor

Most times, one-sided neck pain is caused by muscle strain and should get better over the next few days. You should see your doctor if you the pain is severe, persistent or associated with other symptoms like:

  • Numbness
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Pain that radiates to the left hand
  • Severe headache
  • Arm weakness

Diagnostic Tests

Apart from examining you, your doctor may request tests like an X-ray to see if there are any issues with the bones or an MRI to see soft tissue and the intervertebral discs.




It is necessary to rest a painful neck. A cervical collar will be very useful in resting the neck and reducing movements.


Ice is normally used to relieve spasm and muscle pain for the first 72 hours. Crushed ice in a damp towel can be placed at the neck for 15 minutes. Do not massage the neck after using the ice.


Muscle relaxants and pain relievers might be prescribed by your doctor to help relieve pain and relax any tense muscles at the neck.


Some cases of nerve impingement at the cervical spine might need to be surgically treated.


Physiotherapy will help restore normal function to the neck and also help in preventing further injuries.

After an assessment, goals and treatment plans are drawn up. These could be:

    • Pain relief can be done through the use of thermal therapy which can be ice or heat or the use of a nerve stimulator if it affects the left arm. Massage with pain-relieving ointments can also be added to the treatment.
    • Stretching tight muscles if there are any.
    • Prevent deformities that may occur from favoring the right side due to pain on the left side. The body may adjust in such a way to avoid pain and it may cause the head to be pushed forward or to one side.
    • Relieve additional symptoms such as the sensation in the left arm. This is done through a treatment known as cervical traction.
    • Lifestyle modification can involve changing your posture or modifying how you work to prevent pain.

Neck Stretches

This might be recommended by your doctor or physiotherapist. You shouldn’t exercise an injured neck without discussing with your doctor.

Right Ear To Right Shoulder

  • This can be done sitting or standing
  • Slowly take your right ear to your right shoulder (not your shoulder to meet your ear halfway)
  • Do not bounce this movement and ensure the body is not tilted to the right
  • Hold this stretch for 5 seconds
  • Return the head to its neutral position

Chin To Right Shoulder Stretch

  • Twist your head towards your right
  • Let your chin move towards the right shoulder
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the neutral position

Chin To Chest Stretch

  • Take the chin towards your chest
  • Relax your neck muscles and allow your head to drop forwards without straining
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the neutral position

Rotation And Extension Stretch

  • This is a mix of 2 stretches.
  • Take the chin towards your right shoulder
  • Place your palm over your head to touch your left ear
  • Pull your head with your chin towards your shoulder slowly to the back
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the neutral position


  1. Sleep correctly. It is difficult to stay in a particular position while sleeping but using the right pillows can help to ensure that the neck is well supported and is not under any stress. Sometimes, sleeping without a pillow or using a soft collar or a special neck pillow can help relieve pain.
  2. Stretch breaks. Staying in a position for a long time can be stressful and sometimes, the muscles just need a break. Stretching the body, especially the neck, can help ease off tension in the neck muscles and prevent pain.
  3. Be active. Change your position once in a while. Alternate between sitting, standing, walking and laying down. Regular exercises also prepare your muscles for any form of work they are to do and can also prevent pain in the neck.


Pain in the left side of the neck is almost always due to muscle tightness and overworking the muscles found in the left compartment. It should go away on its own after a few days if well-rested.

You should see your doctor if it is severe, lasts more than a few days, or associated with other symptoms like numbness, muscle weakness or chest tightness.

  • Save
Share via
Copy link