Neck Sprain


The same tissues that give your neck such mobility are often the easiest ones to injury. The muscles, tendons and ligaments are particularly prone to damage. While mild strains involve stretched ligaments, which connect bones to one another, more severe sprains can involve actual tears.

In most cases, self-care is adequate to cure neck sprains. But if you've experienced a neck strain with severe, persistent or unexplained symptoms or problems, you'll want to see a doctor at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program.


Causes of Neck Sprain

Any sudden movement can cause the ligaments to stretch or tear, especially a motor vehicle accident (often called whiplash) or a hard fall.



The following symptoms can indicate a neck sprain:

  • Pain that peaks a day or so after the injury, instead of immediately.
  • Muscle spasms and pain in the upper shoulder.
  • Headache in the back of the head.
  • Sore throat.
  • Increased irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and difficulty concentrating.
  • Numbness in the arm or hand.
  • Neck stiffness or decreased range of motion (side to side, up and down, circular).
  • Tingling or weakness in the arms.

If these symptoms are present, you should see your doctor. The sports medicine professionals at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Sports Medicine Program may recommend an x-ray so they can look more closely at the bones in your neck. This evaluation will help rule out or identify other sources of neck pain, such as spinal fractures, dislocations, arthritis and other serious conditions.



Like most sprains, neck sprains will heal gradually on their own if given enough time and appropriate treatment. To facilitate recovery, your doctor may recommend that you wear a soft collar around your neck to help support the head and take pressure off the ligaments while they heal.

Other treatments may be recommended, including:

  • Massaging the tender area
  • Ice for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, several times a day for the first 2 or 3 days after the injury
  • Ultrasound
  • Cervical (neck) traction
  • Aerobic and isometric exercise
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle relaxants

There are no surgical options for neck sprains.

If you have questions about neck sprains or want to make an appointment, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to assist you.