Neck Strain; Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

A neck strain may be because of an injury to one or more fibers in neck muscles and tendons that support and move the head and neck stretches too far. The neck is more prone to injury because it is capable of large range of motion. The neck muscles are also affected by the motion of near areas of the body.


Neck injuries lead to neck strain.  Some common causes are given as under;

Poor posture:

The neck’s tissues, muscles and tendons are can be overstretched when the head is titled at an angle for long time. Some examples are

  • Holding phone between ear and shoulder.
  • Setting in front of computer for several hours.
  • Sleeping in such position that does not support cervical spine well.

Lifting heavy things:

Lifting heavy things require too much work for the muscles and neck can be strained while lifting heavy items.


Automobile accidents are responsible for whiplash injuries (an injury caused when the head is flung backward or forward).

Repetitive motion:

Repetitive motions of head and neck can strain the neck’s muscles.

New activity:

Putting muscles through any new activity make it more vulnerable to strain. For example athletes are more accessible to muscles strains at the start of a training session.

Symptoms and signs:

The sign of neck strain include

  • Pain
  • Decreased motion of neck and head
  • Inability to perform daily work.
  • Sharp pain
  • Muscle spasm


The neck strain can be diagnosed by

Medical history:

Information about habits, life style, hobbies, work and sleep may be collected for diagnosis purpose. Family and medical also help to reach the the diagnosis.

Physical exam:

It involves feeling and observing any abnormalities in the neck.

Others sources of diagnosis are

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT scan

Initial Treatment:

The following treatments are tried when the strain first develops

Activity modification:

Resting the neck foe several days to start healing otherwise without reducing activity can prolong the pain.

Heat or ice therapy:

Applying ice in the first 48 hours can reduce swelling. Also heat can improve the blood and nutrients circulation to the affected area.


Anti-inflammatory medicines help to reduce inflammation which leads to pain relief.

Other treatments:

If the strain last longer or another, underlying problem cause the chronic pain. Other treatments  may be needed which can be

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Prescribed medicines

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