Information for Patients
Neck Injuries and Disorders
Any part of your neck - muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerves - can cause neck problems. Neck pain is very common. Pain may also come from your shoulder, jaw, head, or upper arms.
Muscle strain or tension often causes neck pain. The problem is usually overuse, such as from sitting at a computer for too long. Sometimes you can strain your neck muscles from sleeping in an awkward position or overdoing it during exercise. Falls or accidents, including car accidents, are another common cause of neck pain. Whiplash, a soft tissue injury to the neck, is also called neck sprain or strain.
Treatment depends on the cause, but may include applying ice, taking pain relievers, getting physical therapy or wearing a cervical collar. You rarely need surgery.
Sprains and Strains
A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.
A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.
At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases