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What You Need to Know About Neck Sprains and Strains

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Rakesh Kumar 91% (147 ratings)
MS - Orthopaedics, MBBS
Orthopedic Doctor, Delhi  •  23 years experience
What You Need to Know About Neck Sprains and Strains

A neck strain and sprain is not a serious injury. However, they can still cause significant dysfunction and pain.
Causes of Neck Strain
The anatomy of the cervical spine is such that it not only houses, but also protects the spinal cord. Along with this it supports the head and allows it for mobility and motion. But this area, which allows the spine to be flexible can also leave it vulnerable for injury.

Triggers for the onset of neck muscle strain can be:

  1. Too much time spent in an uncomfortable position, such as humping over the steering wheel while driving, bending over the computer monitor, talking on the phone while placing it in the crook of the neck.
  2. Sleeping on a very high or too firm pillow can lead to an uncomfortable position of the head thus leading to the strain of the neck
  3. Carrying heavy objects on one side of the body
  4. Any trauma that might have impacted the neck, such as an accident, whiplash or a fall that might have had a head landing

Most events of a neck muscle strain or the soft tissue sprain, such as the tendons and ligaments lead to stiff neck along with pain in shoulders. There is also pain and difficulty in moving the neck or head.

Neck muscle strain remedies

Minor strains in the tendons, ligaments and muscles of the neck usually heal within a day or two. But till the symptoms subside, there are a few self care remedies that are effective in reducing the stiffness and pain. These are:

  1. Application of cold or ice packs: The cold reduces the inflammation, which in turn allows the strain to heal. This ice pack should be applied for 20 minutes interval in the first 24 hours.
  2. Application of heat: Heat helps in bringing the nutrient rich blood to the affected area in order to stimulate a healing response. Moist heat as well as heat from a hot shower or bath can be used. Some people might find relief from applying heat wraps such as thermacare.
  3. Over-the-counter or OTC medications: Anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen and ibuprofen reduces inflammation, thereby leading to the reduction in pain. Pain relieving medicines such as acetaminophen can also be taken as this reduces the perception of pain.
  4. Massage of the affected area: A gentle massage in the affected area helps in stimulating the blood flow of the area which in turn helps in a quick healing.
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