Chiropractor Questions Shoulder pain

I have a slight neck and shoulder pain every time I drive. Why does this happen?

I have a strange pain in my neck and shoulders everytime I drive. This pain goes away when I lie down. Why does this happen?

15 Answers

Neck pain is an issue that many people deal with in their lives. Neck pain can be caused by trauma or by constant stress and strain on the muscles and nerves in and surrounding the neck. This stress and strain are primary contributors to the neck pain that people often experience when driving for a long time.

Driving can cause pain to occur in the neck because it entails holding your head up for an extended amount of time, which can cause pain and stiffness in the neck. Neck pain is a common, nagging problem, but it doesn’t have to be with proper treatment from a doctor of chiropractic and five effective tips:

1. Support your head
One cause of neck pain is lack of support of the head. Supporting your head while driving is a great way to reduce the risk of neck pain while driving.
Adjust your headrest so that it sits in a position just behind your head. That way you can lean your head back against your headrest when needed.
Another way involves using a head pillow. By placing it behind your head so that your headrest holds it up, you can rely on it for support when your neck gets tired. If you aren’t sure what type of pillow to get, talk to a chiropractor who can recommend one that works best for you.

2. Use good posture
Many car seats are designed to tip back, causing the driver to slump. Adapting a slumped position while driving can cause neck pain.
To avoid neck pain while on the road using good driving posture. Sit straight up and place your hands on the wheel, so they are at the 2 and 10 o’clock positions. Adjust your seat so you won’t have to lean back too far. Positioning yourself too far away from the gas and brake pedals can cause strain on your back and neck.

3. Adjust your mirrors
Adjust your side and rear-view mirrors. Set them up in a way that you can see the widest view without turning your head too far and thus straining your neck. This is an easy way to avoid sudden movements that can cause neck pain while driving.

4. Don’t strain your eyes
If you have poor vision, you may be straining your eyes while driving. Poor vision can cause you to crane your neck forward to see further ahead. This puts pressure on the neck, which causes pain.
If you strain to see while you drive, you need to get your vision checked because you may need glasses or contact lenses. Also, if it is sunny outside, make sure you are wearing sunglasses, so you can see further down the road without straining.

5. Take breaks
If you frequently experience neck pain while driving, try to avoid driving for long periods of time. If this can’t be avoided, make sure you are taking breaks every so often. Get out of the car and stretch your back and the neck to alleviate pressure.

Seek Help from a Professional
If these tips don’t work for your neck pain while driving, consider seeking professional help. They can provide you with targeted advice to reduce or eliminate their occurrence in the future.


Dr. Martin
It could be due to the stresses of driving or simply the posture you are in when you are driving.
This sounds like your posture may be causing the pain when driving. I recommend adjusting your seat to be more upright and bring your body closer to the steering wheel.
Most likely a subluxation in the spine.

See the video entitled "subluxation" on this page:
There are many reasons that someone may experience neck and shoulder pain when driving or sitting upright. To find out the cause of your specific case you should consult with you local chiropractor who will ask you about history, analyze your posture, and perform some tests to determine what is causing you pain and options to treat your condition.
I suspect forward head posture is the problem.
It could be a postural nerve impingement. Please see a chiropractor for an exact diagnosis.
Without knowing you or your history, a number of different conditions can be causing this. What is your age? How often are you in the car? How long or far do you drive before you start to notice the pain? What type of car and seats do you have? What is your seat position in the car or your posture while driving? Any previous history of neck or shoulder problems or old injuries? When you say the shoulders, are you referring to the actual shoulders or is it more by the muscles up by the neck (which is usually coming from the neck, but most of my patients call it shoulder problems)? I would seek care with your healthcare provider and find the cause of the problem or pain. Being a chiropractor, this is what we try to do. A history helps and goes a long way towards diagnosing a condition and also the examination and, if need be, any appropriate X-rays of your neck might be recommended. With the head in a forward head carriage or translation, it very likely causes more pressure or strain on the lower neck and upper back area. In general, every inch your head goes forward past your posture line adds about 10 lbs of stress in that area of the body. 1 inch about 10 lbs., 2 inches about 20 lbs., you get the idea. I tell my patients, think of a bowling ball. You hold it close to you and support it, it's OK. If you had to hold it straight out in front of you, arms straight, you would be tired and staining pretty quickly; you would feel it. When lying down, pain goes away, your head is not hanging out there and the muscles of the neck and upper back are not having to support them to try to hold them back, causing fatigue and tightness.
Typically we tend to elevate our shoulders and trapezius muscles when we drive without even knowing it. Focus on relaxing your arms and shoulders when you are behind the wheel.
If the pain is only there when you drive, it could be due to your driving posture. Unfortunately, most cars are designed with a head restraint (headrest) piece that is angled forward and puts your neck and head in an unnatural position. This is one possibility. Naturally, I would recommend you see a reputable chiropractor for a proper evaluation.

Dr. Cedrick Noel, BSN, DC, FABCDD, DACNB
There could be several reasons, your part medical history, your seat position, your work conditions, etc. If you'd like us to take a look at it, please call 303-757-7272
You have a pinched nerve in your neck---see a chiropractor

Dr David Leonard
It is quite common to feel stress and increased tension when driving. Try some hot compresses and massage. In the meantime, consider what the cause of any possible stress may be: have you or anyone that you could be worried about been in a motor vehicle accident? Are you a new driver? Anything stressful in your life right now, etc.? Call me if you have any questions at 516-797-8888.
It sounds like you may have a pinched nerve in your neck. A chiropractor should be able to help you
It is probably due to "spinal creep." Spinal creep is a progressive deformation of anatomical structures such as ligaments and muscles. When the muscles in your neck and upper back are under a constant load (i.e. driving with your head forward), it deforms those muscles/ligaments and stretches them; so, your body is adapting to a certain posture in a negative way. When you are forcing yourself to sit/stand up straight, you are using muscles that are weak to hold that posture and also stretching muscles that are tight; couple these two things together and you get pain. As far as a fix, there is no quick fix, I would recommend, some targeted massage to open those contracted tissues, some chiropractic manipulations to free the joints that aren’t moving and also some rehab exercises to start to change your posture.