Temporary neck pain is a common occurrence among many individuals, and it can happen due to everyday tasks and exercises. Neck pain is also considered among the most common chronic pains. If you’re experiencing neck pain on the left side, it can occur because of muscle strain due to sleeping in an abnormal position or swelling.
However, if you have excruciating or continuous pain on the left side of the neck, the cause can be an underlying medical issue.
Below we will discuss a few causes of pain on the left side of the neck and when to visit a doctor.

Causes of neck pain on the left side

Muscle strain or tension

Neck pain on the left or right side is often caused by muscle tension or muscle strain.
While a muscle strain happens when a tendon or muscle is stretched too much. Muscle tension happens when a muscle is unable to release completely after contraction.
Here are the causes of muscle strain or tension in the neck.

  • Sleeping in a bad position
  • Hunching over for long hours
  • Talking over the phone while holding it in between shoulder and ear
  • Putting too much pressure on muscles while exercising
  • Injury
  • Teeth grinding
  • Stress or anxiety


  • Pain or stiffness in the neck
  • Inflammation in neck or shoulder
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Headaches


This condition causes bending or twisting of the neck to one side. It happens when the muscles of the neck contract because of:

  • Stroke
  • Compressed nerves
  • Accidents
  • Exposure to cold temperatures
  • Emotional stress

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and discomfort when trying to straighten or move the neck
  • Headaches
  • Issues with vision
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Walking issues
  • Nausea
  • Fever

Cervical radiculopathy

Pitched nerve happens when the nerve root that resides in the cervical spinal cord is squeezed due to swelling, herniated disk, or bone spurs. This condition can cause pain in the neck that goes down the arm and extends to the hand.
Additional symptoms:

  • Numbness in the arm
  • Muscle fragility
  • Feeling uncomfortable tingling
  • Vague reflexes

Cervical spinal stenosis

This condition is a result of narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, which puts pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord.
It can also happen due to other causes such as:

  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spine injuries

The symptoms build up slowly, and many patients don’t experience anything during the initial stages.
They include:

  • Weakness in hands or fingers
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness in the neck reaching down the hands

Rare causes

Neck pain on the left side may indicate less common but more severe medical conditions, such as:

  • Spinal tumors
  • Birth defects
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infections
  • Trauma

When to see a doctor

If the pain on the left side of the neck is mild, it is not compulsory to see a doctor.
However, if you have excruciating, continuous neck pain along with other symptoms, visit your doctor as soon as possible. The other symptoms that may occur are vomiting, fever, or reduced balancing capabilities.