Neck sprain

Neck sprain is caused by a tear in a muscle or ligament which connects and supports the seven vertebrae of the neck.


The neck is especially vulnerable to strains, which are usually caused by a sudden movement, for example during a car accident or sports injury.


These include pain, especially when you move your neck, and this is usually worse around 24 hours after an injury. You may also have a headache, sore throat, difficulty sleeping, numbness or tingling in your arm or hand, and reduced movement.


After discussing your symptoms, the specialist will examine your neck and check your range of movement. You may also need X-rays to ensure the neck is not fractured, and to check the condition of your bones for other conditions such as osteoarthritis.


  • You may need to wear a soft collar to support your head, relieving pressure so that your ligaments can heal
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine, if advised by your doctor, can help reduce pain and inflammation; and applying ice (crushed and wrapped in a towel) several times a day for around 15 minutes can also relieve symptoms
  • You may be given a gentle exercise programme to gradually increase your movement
  • In most cases, neck sprains heal within six weeks

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.