Neck Strain

Neck Strain

A neck strain is a muscle injury of the neck. A neck strain is quite a common injury and generally is a mild to moderate injury which clears by itself within a few days to a week.

Symptoms of a Neck Strain

  • Pain in the neck area.
  • Pain on turning the head or looking up or down.
  • A stiff neck.
  • A feeling of tightness in the muscles of the neck.
  • There may be a tender area of muscle when you touch it.
  • You may experience pain or tingling in the arms.

What is a Neck Strain?

A muscle strain is a tear of some of the muscle fibres. This may be just a few, in which case it is a grade one strain, or maybe up to 90% of the muscles fibres, which would be a grade 2 injury. A full muscle rupture is a grade 3 injury, this doesn't often happen in the neck and isn't generally described as a neck strain.

The muscles which are most commonly injured include Trapezius and Levator Scapulae.

A neck strain is often the result of a sudden movement or force to the head or neck. This may happen from a fall or a car accident and is often referred to as whiplash. Similar pain in one or more of the neck muscles may also occur after holding an awkward position for a prolonged period, such as holding a phone between the ear and shoulder, or sleeping awkwardly (e.g. sitting upright).


  • Rest from whatever activity caused it or anything that aggravates it.
  • Try to keep the neck moving gently by twisting the head and looking up and down.
  • Gently stretch the neck muscles.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to you by a health professional.
  • Apply ice if the injury happened from a sudden incident. 15 minutes at a time every 2-4 hours for the first 24-48 hours.
  • After 48 hours, a warm pack can be used to relax the muscles and increase blood flow.
  • Massage may also be helpful after the first 48 hours to stretch the muscles.
  • If symptoms do not improve within a week, visit your Doctor.

Expert interview

Chiropractor Dr. Maria Madge talks about neck pain and relieving neck pain.



Massage for neck strain

Basic sports massage techniques for the upper back and neck which are often used to treat muscular related neck and back pain.