Can Neck Pain Make Me Tired?

Mar 20, 2024
Can Neck Pain Make Me Tired?
You know that chronic neck pain can limit your activities, disrupt your sleep, and increase your stress levels, but can it make you feel tired all the time, too? Learn more about the relationship between chronic neck pain and fatigue.

It’s hard to appreciate how much you rely on your neck until it’s saddled with chronic tension, stiffness, and pain. Everything you do — from sitting at your desk all day and sleeping comfortably at night to driving your car and carrying heavy groceries — can be difficult or even impossible when your neck is tight, achy, and tender. 

Chronic neck pain is often the product of multiple co-concurring issues, such as:

  • Spinal disc problems 
  • Degenerative changes
  • Poor postural habits  
  • Vertebral misalignments
  • Muscular imbalances
  • Injury (i.e., ligament sprain)

At Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia, our expert team knows that chronic neck pain can limit your activities, disrupt your sleep, increase your stress levels, sap your energy, and — without intervention — leave you vulnerable to long-term disability. 

Here, Dr. Lincoln German and Dr. Mikaela Foley explore the strong connection between ongoing neck pain and fatigue and explain what you can do about it. 

Why does chronic pain make me feel tired?

Ongoing fatigue, or feeling abnormally tired all or most of the time, can be a consequence of many health concerns, including unmanaged stress, poor diet, and uncontrolled chronic illness. It’s also a frequent side effect of long-term (chronic) pain or any pain condition lasting three months or longer.    

Fatigue and chronic pain have a close, bi-directional relationship for many reasons, including the fact that ongoing pain:

  • Is physically draining and exhausting, especially over time 
  • Interferes with sleep quality and quantity, night after night
  • Often stems from energy-sapping systemic inflammation 
  • Can make you less active, diminishing your energy further 

Pain-related fatigue can also be exacerbated by ongoing pain medication use, as feeling tired or exhausted is a common side effect of many pain relievers.

But the relationship between chronic pain and fatigue isn’t one-way;. In contrast, ongoing pain may set the stage for sluggishness and lethargy, being in a low-energy state also serves to worsen your pain — exacerbating the problem in a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.    

What makes neck pain particularly fatiguing?

Ongoing neck tension and discomfort can make you tired simply because it’s chronic pain. But neck pain can be particularly exhausting because of how it arises from an underlying problem within or around the cervical spine.   

Any misalignment or degenerative change in the cervical spine — or imbalance or strain in its supporting tissues (i.e., neck and upper back muscles) — can ripple through your entire nervous system, impacting body function in many ways.  

Efficient movement and energy use require a well-aligned spine from the top of your neck to the base of your tailbone. Even a minor misalignment, imbalance, or degenerative change within the cervical spine can throw off this efficiency, setting the stage for fatigue.   

The central “fatiguing factors” involved in most cases of chronic neck pain include:  

Poor posture

Your neck supports your head, which weighs about as much as a bowling ball. When your cervical spine is healthy and aligned, your neck bears your head’s exact weight and does so effortlessly. But when your upper back and neck posture is off, it places your cervical spine under increased stress and strain. 

For every inch your head is held forward in poor posture, your cervical spine bears an extra 10 pounds of gravitational force; just two inches of forward-head posture effectively triples the weight load on your neck. Day after day, this excess strain can be exhausting for your neck, upper back muscles, and nervous system.     

Muscle tension

When your spine is fundamentally misaligned — or out of neutral alignment because of poor posture — connected tissues and supporting body parts work harder. For example, your back and neck muscles must work harder to stabilize your spine when you slouch or hold your head forward while looking at a screen. 

This perpetual state of being can lead to an ongoing sense of fatigue, even on days when you aren’t very active. The fatigue that springs from muscle imbalances can be exacerbated by the next natural stage of progression: ongoing muscle tension and tightness.    


A misaligned vertebra is referred to as a subluxation. A subluxation in your cervical spine can lead to irritation and chronic stress on the surrounding nerves and the spinal column itself. Subluxations can also constrict nearby blood vessels, diminishing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to nearby muscles, making fatigue more likely.  

Impinged nerves

Nerve impingement (pinched nerve) is a common consequence of poor posture and subluxation. Spinal nerve pressure and constriction can occur even with a slight degree of misalignment or degeneration, and the pain it causes can radiate down your arm and affect the use of your hand — making even simple tasks less comfortable and more draining. 

Alternatively, chronic neck pain can emanate upward, affecting the pain structures in your head and leaving you more prone to headaches, dizziness, irritability, and lack of energy.   

How can I ease chronic neck pain for good?

From massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments to cold laser therapy, physical therapy, and postural rehabilitation, there’s a lot we can do to help you restore healthy cervical spine alignment, balance, and function — and alleviate chronic neck pain with lasting results. 

The first step? A comprehensive evaluation and accurate diagnosis from our team at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia. To learn more or schedule a visit, call or click online today.