Understanding Neck Strain Treatments and Prevention

April 3, 2023

Neck pain is a common ailment most people experience from time to time. Causes of occasional or een chronic neck pain can be attributed to a variety of potential cause, from poor posture in front of a computer to sudden impact injuries such as whiplash. Necks are one of the more vulnerable parts of the musculoskeletal system, and it often doesn’t take much for the neck to become sore or strained.

Neck strain is a common condition that occurs when the muscles and tendons in the neck become stretched or torn due to sudden or repetitive movements. Neck strain can cause significant pain and discomfort, limiting your ability to perform daily activities.

Common symptoms of neck strain include:

  • Localized pain in the neck
  • Sharp or throbbing pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain that worsens with movement
  • Swelling or stiffness in the neck

Fortunately, there are several minimally invasive treatment options available to relieve neck strain symptoms and prevent future flare-ups. If you are experiencing excruciating neck pain that worsens with movement, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away to determine the best course of treatment.

What Are the Initial Treatment Options for Neck Strain?

If you are suffering from neck strain, your doctor may recommend the following options to begin treatment:

  • Rest – Rest is one of the most effective treatments for neck strain. Avoiding activities that cause pain or discomfort can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. It is also important to maintain good posture while resting to avoid additional strain on the neck.
  • Ice or heat therapy Applying ice or heat therapy to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Ice therapy is recommended in the acute phase of injury (first 72 hours) as it helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Heat therapy can be helpful in the sub-acute phase of injury (after 72 hours) as it helps to relax the muscles and increase blood flow.
  • Pain medications Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. If the pain in your neck does not improve, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants to help provide additional relief.

What if Neck Strain Symptoms Do Not Improve?

If you have been experiencing neck strain that lasts longer than a few days, your doctor may suggest additional treatment options, including:

  • Physical therapy– A physical therapist can develop a customized exercise program to help improve neck strength, flexibility and range of motion. Physical therapy can also help reduce pain and improve overall function.
  • Massage therapy Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension in the neck and improve circulation, promoting healing and reducing pain. A trained massage therapist may be able to help increase blood flow and target circulation to the damaged tissues in the neck.
  • Acupuncture Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and promote healing. While this method has not been scientifically proven to treat neck strain, some patients report that acupuncture is effective for relieving their neck pain.
  • Chiropractic care Chiropractic care involves manipulating the spine to improve alignment and reduce pain. While some might doubt the effectiveness of chiropractic care for neck pain, others find it helpful for improving the neck’s range of motion, reducing pain and realigning the body.

It’s likely in your best interest to consult with your doctor or an orthopaedist before utilizing nontraditional neck pain management treatments like acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments.

Is Neck Strain Preventable?

While it can be difficult to prevent unexpected neck injuries (such as whiplash), you can reduce the risk of neck strain by following some basic steps, including:

  • Maintain good posture Maintaining good posture can help prevent neck strain. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid slouching when sitting or standing.
  • Take frequent breaks If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or using a computer, take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch. This can help prevent muscle tension and improve circulation.
  • Stretch regularly Regular stretching can help improve neck flexibility and prevent muscle tension. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine, focusing on the neck and upper back muscles.
  • Exercise  Consistent exercise can help improve neck strength and prevent muscle strain. Focus on exercises that target the neck and upper back muscles, such as shoulder shrugs and neck rotations.
  • Use proper lifting techniques When lifting heavy objects, use proper lifting technique to avoid straining the neck muscles. Keep your back straight and always lift with your legs (not your back).
  • Stay hydrated Dehydration can contribute to muscle tension and increase the risk of neck strain. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your muscles healthy and well-hydrated.
  • Adjust your sleeping position Your sleeping position can also contribute to neck strain. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this can put strain on the neck muscles. Instead, sleep on your back or side with a supportive pillow.


At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, we offer non-invasive treatments for orthopaedic neck injuries, including whiplash and neck strain. Our dedicated team strives to determine the cause of your symptoms before developing a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan to manage your neck pain.

To make an appointment, call our Marietta and Carrollton offices at (770) 421-1420 or contact us online.

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