Nothing in this article is to be taken as medical advice of any kind. If you feel you have a medical issue, seek the advice of a licensed Primary Health Care Provider as soon as possible.
“Pulling a muscle” is a type of muscle strain injury, something everyone experiences sometime in their lives. It is usually caused by hyper-extension of the sternocleidomastoid, scalene, and trapezus muscles that run along the sides of your neck. This can cause the muscles and tendons to develop small lesions. The injury is characterized by stiffness and soreness of the neck, and sometimes, swelling and inflammation of the tissues. Though usually not serious, it should be looked at by your Primary Health Care Provider as soon as possible.
If the pain and/or swelling persists following a normal recovery period ( 2 days to a week), or if other signs and symptoms develop ( weakness, numbness, or tingling) see a doctor as soon as possible.
Neck pain is of concern because it could also involve the spine, and could also be indicative of more serious health concerns. Herniated cervical discs, meningitis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions can initially manifest as neck pain. It’s best to have a physician check you out, just to be sure.
It is frequently difficult to distinguish between a pulled neck muscle, and a pulled tendon, except by location. Fortunately, the treatment for both is the same, mostly involving the relief of inflammation. The best thing to do, especially in the first 48 hours is RICE (Relaxation, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Of course, heavy compression of the neck is not possible because it would interfere with breathing, but a gentle compression is possible with a sports wrap: Just wind it snugly, but comfortably around the neck along with an Ice Gel pack. Relax in a recliner or with pillows behind your back so that your neck stays higher your heart, and just take it easy for a while.
In more severe cases, you may need to use a soft neck brace to help relax the neck muscles. You may also need some help managing pain. The usual thing is to use Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen, and Motrin. be sure to check with your doctor before using these, because they can be hard on your stomach and kidneys if they are compromised in any way.
Sometimes, severely pulled muscles may require physical therapy to heal back correctly. This should only be done under a doctor or licensed therapist’s supervision. Other options include Alternative Treatments such as Massage Therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, and reflexology. It is extremely rare that surgery is required, and is always a last resort, only in the most severe of cases. Normally, the pain and stiffness will begin to subside after a few days, with no permanent repercussions.
No matter how minor you believe it to be, you should see a physician as soon as you can following any neck injury. It’s better to be safe than sorry……