There are 7 bones (vertebrae) in the neck that are part of the spine. These are called the cervical spine. Cervical strain is a medical term for neck pain. The neck has several layers of muscles. These are connected with tendons to the cervical spine and other bones. Neck pain is often the result of injury to these muscles and tendons.
Different types of stress on the neck can damage muscles and tendons (soft tissues) and cause cervical strain. Cervical tissues can be damaged by:
The neck being forced past its normal range of motion, such as in a car accident or sports injury
Constant, low-level stress, such as from poor posture or a poorly set-up workspace
These may include:
Neck pain or stiffness
Pain in the shoulders or upper back
Headache, often starting at the base of the neck
Irritability, trouble concentrating, or sleeplessness
Numbness in the arm or hand
Tingling or weakness in the arm
This problem often gets better on its own. Treatments aim to reduce pain and inflammation and increase the range of motion of the neck. Possible treatments include:
Over-the-counter or prescription medicine. These help relieve pain and inflammation.
Muscle relaxant can help with muscle spasms.
Stretching exercises to decrease neck stiffness.
Massage to decrease neck stiffness.
Cold or heat pack. These help reduce pain and swelling.
Call 911 right away if you have any of these:
Face drooping or numbness
Numbness or weakness, especially in the arms or on one side
Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider
Pain or stiffness that gets worse
Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse
Numbness, tingling, weakness or shooting pains into the arms or legs
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