What You Need to Know About Neck Sprains and Strains?

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By Dr. Ankit Bhartia, Orthopaedics

A neck sprain occurs due to tearing or stretching of ligaments in the neck. Ligaments are fibrous tissues holding two bones together around the joints. A neck strain refers to the injury inflicted on the tendons or muscles moving and supporting the neck and the head; tendons being a fibrous cord of tissue connecting bones to muscles.

Symptoms of Neck Sprain and Strain:

  1. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting or headache.
  2. Decreased hearing or ringing in your ears.
  3. Fatigue and weakness.
  4. Patchy numbness in your arms or hands.
  5. Difficulty in breathing.
  6. Pain while swallowing


  1. Keeping the head in an odd or in a forward position for an extended time period while reading, working, talking over the phone or watching television can cause such a pain.
  2. Resting on a pillow that is either too flat or too high might not be the best posture to sleep in. This renders your neck unstable and your back, twisted.
  3. Relaxing with your head placed over your arm or your upright fist can cause neck sprain over a period of time.
  4. Performing certain exercises or carrying out certain activities such as overhead work or painting the ceiling which involves the use of your arms or the upper body can result in neck sprain and strain.


  1. Tension, inflammation and pain caused due to neck sprain can be treated by anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen and analgesics such as acetaminophen.
  2. Muscle relaxants, gentle massages and motion exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist might also help to ease your pain.
  3. Applying cold packs or ice reduces swelling of the affected area, allowing it to heal. However it has to be applied within the first 24 hours with intervals of twenty minutes.
  4. Applying heat stimulates flow of nutrient-rich blood, thus boosting the healing process. A hot shower or a lukewarm bath can also bring relief.