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Why is neck pain a common complaint in women?

Steven Shoshany, DC
Chiropractic Medicine

There are two main reasons that women are more likely than men to have neck pain. Find out what they are in this video with chiropractor and pain management specialist Steven Shoshany.

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
Neck pain is usually due to three problems: 1. problems with the shoulder complex, 2. the shape of the thoracic spine and consequently the cervical spine, and 3. problems in how the head moves. We’ll just cover the shoulder complex as that pertains to most women.
How your shoulders create neck pain
The shoulder girdle is unique in the body because it is a floating system held in place by muscular control. With respect to neck pain, two of these muscles connect directly from the shoulder blade to the cervical spine as well as base of the skull. When muscles controlling the shoulders are not functioning properly, stress is delivered to the neck along these attachments. Consequently neck pain ensues due to excessive compression, sidebending, or rotation of the vertebrae. Because one of these muscles also connects to the base of the skull, the head will also rest or move incorrectly, affecting the muscles traveling from the cervical spine to the skull.
When the shoulder girdle is not functioning correctly, vulnerabilities are established within the cervical spine as a result of the cumulative stress delivered by the shoulder girdle. 
Why neck pain is common in women?
So if the shoulder complex dragging on the neck is a big problem then why do women have more issues than men? One reason can be breast size. Breasts can help pull the shoulder complex down. Along with this is the fact that many bra straps loop over the shoulder, directing the weight of the bra through the shoulder blade and pulling it down. This passes the stress directly to the two muscles mentioned earlier.
Another issue is sedentary jobs allow the shoulder blades to depress over time, dragging on the neck. If this isn’t offset through exercise or strengthening of the muscles that hold the shoulder blade up, then pain can result. 
 
 
Howard S. Smith
Pain Medicine
Neck pain is a common complaint by women. Whether from osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, an injury, or from constant straining while sitting at a computer terminal all day, neck pain can interfere with your activities and daily routine. In most cases, neck pain is acute and resolves in a few days or weeks. Yet for those women who have chronic (long-term) neck pain, the pain can be excruciating and may limit your quality of life, including sleep and ability to exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.