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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Neck strain

Neck strain

Neck strain occurs from acute injury to the neck. It is caused by indirect trauma when the head is flung backward or hyperextension of thrown forward (hyper flexion) known as whiplash injuries


Neck strain around the muscles of cervical spine is called whiplash. Neck strain is an injury which can damage the ligaments and muscles that support the neck and head.

Causes of neck strain

  • Automobile accidents are responsible for injuries causing hyper extension and hyper flexion
  • Abnormal posture while sleeping or awake
  • Repetitive or prolonged neck extension
  • During exercises
  • Neck trauma
  • Sudden jerky movements of neck
  • Wrong exercise technique

Signs and symptoms of neck strain

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Tenderness of neck muscle
  • Decreased neck movements
  • Neck muscle swelling
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Weakness, numbness, tingling, incoordination and dizziness if the nerves are involved

Tests and diagnosis

  • Plain x-ray of the neck
  • CT scan of the cervical spine
  • MRI scan
  • Diskography
  • Radionuclide scanning

Treatment of neck strain

  • Bed rest         
  • Cervical collar may be helpful
  • Apply ice packs and heat intermittently.
  • Application of dry or moist heat
  • Medications for pain like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Opiods like codeine can be given.
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Physical therapy