At times, muscle strain and sprain are used to define a painful condition in an identical fashion. A strain is colloquially referred to as a pulled muscle or torn muscle which also occurs in the tendon part of the human body. It is different from the term muscle sprain which is often referred to as torn ligament. It is defined as the injury that happens in one or more ligaments in a joint, i.e. often caused by trauma.
Acute and Chronic Strain
A strain may be an acute or chronic condition. It is usually accompanied with symptoms like discomfort, painful inflammation, muscle spasms and limited ability to move the affected muscle. An acute muscle strain occurs because of overstretched muscle or muscle torn. This is usually happens while performing physical activity without proper warm up, poor posture, overexertion, and fatigue whereas, chronic muscle strains are the consequence of repetitive movement. Poor posture, improper standing or sitting position for prolonged period of time, or some sports activity like rowing can cause this chronic strain.
Human neck is interconnected with more than 20 muscles. Any damage to the muscle or the tendons that connect muscles to bones can lead to severe inflammation. If muscle or tendon stretches excessively or gets torn, neck strain takes place. This often referred to as pulled or torn and may vary in pain intensity depending on the tear size and location. Neck strain naturally heals on its own within a week but the pain may range from mild to sharp and sometimes unbearable. In neck strain, there are two long muscles of the neck that are involved and are at increased risk namely
- Levator scapulae
How Long Does It Take For a Strained Neck Muscle To Heal?
Most of the neck strain cases are usually mild or moderate condition. But eventually, this condition will heal naturally in one or few days. But there are cases which can lead to discomfort and inconvenient condition. An immediate medical attention is needed if the pain in the neck failed to subside within a week or if there is any debility like unable to walk or move. A physical examination and general imaging tests like X-rays and MRI scans can help the specialist to identify the injury.
The Course of Neck Strain
As soon as the neck strain occurs, the intensity of the pain gradually progresses. In some cases, there is no pain. It may take a couple of days for inflammation to increase resulting in development of symptoms. The pain caused due to a neck strain and the stiffness worsens within 24 hours after the alleged injury.
It takes anywhere between 3-4 weeks for a neck strain to heal completely. Abstaining from activities that may aggravate the condition is advised for a few days for people with neck strain. This will give the tendons and muscles enough time to heal and for the inflammation to calm down. In cases of a severe strain, it may take almost three months for symptoms to go but such situations are few and far between without any serious injury to the neck.
Neck Strain Treatments
Self-care like cold or heat therapy for two days is followed by medications. Medicines like anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. It reduces inflammation effectively and turns the pain down. Pain medications like acetaminophen are also effective for neck pain. In case of severe neck strain, physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture may also be required for pain relief. Muscle relaxant is also given to the patient to use for some days to get rid of neck pain as a result of spasms in the neck muscles due to strain.