Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ
Like back strain, neck strain is an irritation to tendons, muscles
and ligaments in the upper back and neck area. Whiplash is characterized
by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck,
usually because of sudden extension and flexion, such as in a car
Sometimes neck strain can be brought on by an abrupt movement by the
neck, such as whiplash.
Symptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury
or may be delayed for several days. In addition to neck pain, other
symptoms may include neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and
ligaments (myofascial injuries), headache, dizziness, abnormal sensations
such as burning or prickling (paresthesias), or shoulder or back
pain. In addition, some people experience cognitive, somatic, or
psychological conditions such as memory loss, concentration impairment,
nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue or depression.
Outlined below are some of the diagnostic tools that your physician
may use to gain insight into your condition and determine the best
treatment plan for your condition.
Treatment for individuals with neck strainmay include pain medications,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants,
and a cervical collar (usually worn for two to three weeks). Range
of motion exercises, physical therapy, and cervical traction may
also be prescribed. Supplemental heat application may relieve muscle
Generally, prognosis for individuals with neck strain
is good. The pain clears within a few days or weeks. Most patients
recover within 3 months after the injury, however, some may continue
to have residual neck pain and headaches.
As with back pain, any time symptoms do not improve after three days,
it's a good idea to see a spine specialist. Also, red flag symptoms
like pain or numbness radiating into an arm, especially down into the
fingers, are emergency symptoms and should be seen by a spine specialist or you may risk permanent damage.
See our exercise
library for helpful neck exercises.
You can minimize your risk of experiencing neck strain by strengthening
the muscles and ligaments in your neck, avoiding contact sports and
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