Symptoms of a Pulled Neck Muscle

Symptoms of a pulled neck muscle may appear in the event of a true strain or pulled muscle that involve muscles along the neck's spine, causing a stiff neck, or when muscle spasms occur due to muscle injury in other areas of the neck, including the disc, muscles, nerves and ligaments.

It's not just the muscles in your neck you need to look out for, however. Other regions near the neck, including the shoulder, upper arms, head and jaw, may cause pain in the neck region. Tension or muscle strain from holding the neck in the same position for several hours when working, poor posture, jarring of the neck while exercising and uncomfortable sleeping positions also can contribute to neck pain.
Severe accidents resulting in whiplash or fractures or conditions including herniated discs, meningitis and fibromyalgia cause neck pain.


  • Difficulty moving the neck from side to side
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands
  • Pain in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Diminished range of motion moving the neck
  • Weakness and slower reflexes in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Tenderness around the neck area
  • Muscle spasms

Simple, at home care for minor neck pain includes:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen
  • Applying ice packs to the area for two to three days in short intervals
  • Begin using a heating pad, or hot compresses on the painful area
  • Gently massage the neck area
  • Keep the neck flexible by stretching the muscles doing slow, easy motion exercises
  • Use a pillow designed especially for neck problems when sleeping or sleep without a pillow altogether.

Contact a health care professional immediately if any of the following apply:

  • If the neck pain continues for more than a week
  • Pain is accompanied by a fever and headache
  • The neck is too stiff to move
  • Glands in the neck are swollen
  • There is difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • Weakness, tingling and numbness is present
  • Pain is not responding to over the counter medications
  • If the injury was caused by a fall or blow to the neck
  • Inability to move arms or hands
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