Neck pain can occur for a few different reasons. The most common cause of acute (short-term) neck pain is soft tissue injuries, including muscle strains, ligament sprains, and tendon strains. Whiplash is a common example of a soft tissue neck injury. It starts following sudden jerky back-and-forth movement in the neck, usually during auto accidents. You can also develop soft tissue neck pain after sleeping in a bad position, craning your neck over an electronic device for many hours a day, or exerting a lot of pressure on your neck tissues by carrying a heavy load.
Anatomic abnormalities are usually the cause of chronic neck pain that lasts weeks, months, or longer. A few examples of anatomic abnormalities include cervical herniated disc, age-related disc degeneration, and foraminal stenosis. With anatomic abnormalities, the neck pain may also involve the shoulder, arm, hand, or fingers. Along with the pain, you may experience a pins-and-needles sensation or numbness.