Why do I have neck pain when I wake up?

waking up with neck pain

Waking up with neck pain every day can be frustrating and uncomfortable. It can disrupt your daily routine and ruin your mood as you wake up each morning. To break the cycle and stop feeling neck pain when you wake up, it is important to understand the possible causes of the pain. This can open up possibilities for treatment or ways to prevent neck pain by changing external circumstances. In many cases, physical therapy can be a great way to treat symptoms like neck pain. A licensed physical therapy specialist can also help to accurately discern the cause of your neck pain. However, understanding some of the possible causes can help you determine what treatment may be right for you.

Causes of neck pain when waking up


  • Poor sleeping posture — Poor posture can lead to tension and pain throughout the body. If you sleep in positions that put strain on your neck, it could lead to neck pain when you wake up. To prevent this, avoid twisting your neck in bed and try to ensure that your head is properly supported before you get to sleep. 
  • Bedding issues — An uncomfortable bed can cause soreness upon waking. Unsupportive pillows can also be an issue. Is your pillow too high, too low or lacking strong neck support? If so, it could be a reason for the neck pain when you wake up. An uncomfortable mattress and pillow can worsen sleep quality and lead to muscle tension in your body. To address this issue, you could upgrade your sleeping quarters to be more ergonomic. 
  • Muscle tension — Is your body constantly tense? Does your neck ache throughout the day, not just in the mornings? Muscle tension in other areas can affect the neck, leading to neck pain. It can also lead to tension headaches. Muscle tension has many causes including stress and anxiety. Emotional states can often affect the body, and muscle tension is just one possible symptom of this. 
  • Stomach sleeping — Sleeping on your stomach can force your neck to turn in an unnatural way. It can also strain the muscles and joints around your neck. This can be a major contributor to neck pain when you wake up. If stomach sleeping makes your neck uncomfortable, you may want to try sleeping in different positions. If this does not help, your neck pain could be caused by something else. 
  • Underlying conditions — There are many conditions that can cause neck pain. From arthritis to herniated discs, your neck pain could be caused by a different health condition. Many underlying conditions can be treated by physical therapy, which can lead to relief from your neck pain as well.

Top physical therapy treatments for neck pain when waking up


  • Neck stretches — Neck stretches are a great way to promote flexibility. Your physical therapy specialist can teach you specific stretches that target key neck muscles. These can help prevent painful injuries in the future and relieve current pain from tension. When you wake up with neck pain again, you can try some simple stretches to loosen your neck. A physical therapy treatment plan can integrate at-home exercises like these with one-on-one sessions to evaluate progress. 
  • Spine stabilization exercises — Improving stability can reduce strain on your neck. If weakness or instability is a major factor in your neck pain, these exercises should help you find relief. Exercises targeting the upper back can also strengthen the neck by stabilizing the spine. In general, strengthening and stabilization exercises are a good way to prevent muscular imbalances that can cause pain in various areas. 
  • Manual therapy — Manual therapy refers to hands-on mobilization techniques. When an expert physical therapy specialist mobilizes your neck tissue, they can loosen up any restricted joints contributing to your neck pain. Manual therapy can be effective for providing quick relief while promoting long-term healing in the mobilized tissue.

Border Therapy Services can help treat your neck pain when waking up

You do not need to live with your neck pain. At Border Therapy Services, our team is equipped to help you address the conditions causing your symptoms so you can move on from waking up with neck pain every morning. When you work with one of our credentialed physical therapists, you can put our expertise to work for you. Our mission is to help you meet your goals in a caring, collaborative environment where patients always feel welcome.

Contact our team today for more information about neck pain treatments or to schedule an initial appointment.