Neck Strain/Sprain

Neck Strain: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment 

Neck pain with movement coordination deficits is often referred to as a neck “sprain or strain.” Like the name implies, neck strains and sprains will often reduce coordination and flexibility in the neck and can cause pain while performing movements of the neck. 

Symptoms Of Neck Strain/Sprain:

  • Long standing symptoms, >12 weeks
  • Limitations in cervical range of motion with pain
  • Weakness to neck musculature
  • Decreased coordination and decreased endurance of deep neck flexor musculature
  • Decreased flexibility of the neck musculature

Possible Causes Of Neck Strain/Sprain:

  • Poor workstation ergonomics coupled with repetitive activities
  • May or may not have specific changes to neck structures as noted on imaging
  • Heavy lifting and manual work
  • Poor posture, or sustained postures
  • Trauma such as a car accident
  • Awkward positions of the neck 

How Can Physical Therapy Help Neck Strain/Sprain?

A physical therapist will help you determine the cause of your neck pain and the steps to take to reduce the pain and prevent it from occurring in the future. Your physical therapist may work with you on: 

  • Postural training
  • Manual therapy techniques to cervical spine
  • Specific corrective exercise to address neck dysfunction and weakness
  • Sustained or repeated movements into positions that reduce symptoms
  • Medication and other modalities such as ice or heat may be necessary to calm symptoms enough to participate in corrective exercises.

Every individual and every episode of neck pain is very unique. The treatment suggestions listed above include several options to try and see how they may improve your situation. In addition, a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist can help identify specific features about your condition and how to best manage them. Understanding as much as possible about your current condition is a very important aspect of the recovery process and will empower you to take the necessary steps to get back to your normal activities with as little discomfort as possible.

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