Causes of Right Side Neck Pain

Coughs and Problems Swallowing due to neck pain

Pain that is experienced in the right side of the neck can be due to coughing and problems with breathing. In these circumstances this type of neck pain may be a sign of bronchitis and it is important to have any persistent cough evaluated by a qualified doctor.

If an individual experiences problems swallowing, or pain on swallowing, then the neck pain may be related to an area of damage in the oesophagus, or a spasm of the oesophageal tract. An unlikely cause of right-sided neck pain is a malignant mass in the neck. If there is a history of acid reflux then it is possible that a condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus is present, whereby cells in the oesophageal tract have been damaged by the stomach acids and have become precancerous.

Muscular Issues from Neck Pain

Congenital abnormalities, trauma, tension, poor posture, and incorrect manual handling can all cause strains in the neck and back musculature. This can lead to pain in the right side of the neck and referred pain elsewhere, included left-sided neck pain. Carrying a heavy backpack with uneven weight distribution often triggers pain in one side of the neck, as does the use of cell phones as most people are right-handed (Berolo, 2010).

Sometimes, wearing the wrong shoes can be a trigger for right sided neck pain, particularly if one leg is slightly longer than the other (which is actually fairly common). An uneven gait can put increasing strain on one side of the body; a consultation with a gait specialist can be helpful in these circumstances, and lifts, or elevated in-soles may be suggested. The Alexander Technique may also help those with postural problems of this kind, particularly if they are holding a lot of tension in the body.

Pulled Muscles Right Side of Neck

A particularly strenuous workout or a gym-based accident can lead to right side neck pain. If using a new piece of gym equipment it is important to know how to use it safely, so as to not put undue strain on the body. Overloading when lifting weights, or moving too quickly between weight-sets can lead to muscle strains and even serious tears of the muscles in the upper body.

Concentrating on one side of the body when working out may lead to uneven muscle tone and future problems with posture, leading to head and neck pain, back pain, as well as right-sided neck pain. It is important to warm up properly before a workout or exercise so as to ease the muscles into full stretch. Cold muscles with little blood flow will not respond well to sudden demands on them from heavy weights.

A Blow to the Neck

Those who compete in contact sports, such as football, or martial arts, may suffer a blow to the right side of the neck which can cause both sharp, acute neck pain, and chronic neck pain in the right side. If trauma like this is inflicted on the neck then it may help to apply an ice pack to reduce the inflammation, and rest the area whilst it heals. Putting further strain on the neck by continuing the activity may lead to further problems and slow healing.

Temporomandibular Joint and Dental Problems

People who grind their teeth, particularly (unconsciously) at night, may find that they experience pain on just one side of the neck. Additionally, if there is an abscess under a tooth then the patient may suffer from swollen glands, inflamed lymph nodes, and neck pain. Chronic neck pain may be attributable to underlying dental issues, particularly if a low-grade fever is also experienced persistently, along with other signs of infection.

Temporomandibular joint disorder can cause right-sided neck pain. This is due to neuralgia (nerve inflammation), and possible structural abnormalities. Headache, shoulder pain, and neck pain may also be experienced.

Structural Abnormalities

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A persistent right-sided neck pain can be caused by a frozen shoulder, or lower shoulder, which pulls the ligaments and muscles down from the neck and causes continual strain. There may be a problem with nerve innervation in this area, causing the dropped shoulder. Therapy, including neck exercises, to strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulder can be helpful in realigning the upper body.

If temporomandibular joint syndrome, shoulder, and neck pain are experienced, along with frequent sinus infections on the right side then this may indicate thoracic outlet syndrome. This is where compression of the neurovascular structures in the neck causes problems of circulation and nerve signal transmission in the brachial plexus and/or subclavian artery or vein. This condition may be managed by physical therapy alone, or may require surgery if the condition is severe (Nicholls, 2009).

Spinal stenosis can also cause right-sided neck pain if the compression occurs in the cervical spine and puts pressure on the nerves or blood vessels in the neck. Degenerative conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis may also trigger this kind of pain.

Last Updated: 10/22/2011