Knowing how to treat pulled neck muscle pain and letting the area rest and heal are the most effective methods for home care. You could start to experience neck pain after an accident, like a fall, or sometimes after a particularly hard workout at the gym. Sometimes, the discovery of a pulled neck muscle is a mystery having no apparent cause at all. Sudden jerks, such as what a person experiences with slight whiplash, or an overuse injury acquired over a period of time are the most common causes. If the pain is unbearable or there seems to be a severely limited range of motion of the neck area, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible because nerves and other significant structures in the cervical area are likely to be involved.
In order to treat a pulled neck muscle you will need:
- Ice pack
- Heating pad
- OTC pain medication
- Contoured neck pillow
- Potassium and magnesium supplements
- Massage therapist or chiropractor
- If a home care approach is appropriate, the first step is resting the neck. If possible, bed rest is the best way to manage the pain and facilitate quick healing. The neck should be as immobilized as possible even when lying in bed.
- A contoured neck pillow can be helpful for a few days after the injury.
- Potassium and magnesium supplementation is something to consider, as well, because these minerals are natural muscle relaxers and many people lack an adequate supply in their diet.
- Another effective treatment is applying heat and cold to the area. Ice the painful area to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. It is important to not place the ice directly on the bare skin because this could cause further soft tissue injury. Ice the area at 30 minute intervals for the first day and gradually taper down as the neck begins to heal. A heat pad can be used intermittently as well. Heat will help the muscle to relax to facilitate healing.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers will help with pain and swelling. An analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties, like ibuprofen, are most effective when treating a pulled neck muscle.
- As the neck muscles heal, a professional massage therapist or chiropractor can help to strengthen the area to prevent the same injury from occurring again.
- If the pain becomes worse after 24 hours of treatment, it is important to see a physician for further treatment. Further treatment could include an MRI to screen for more serious injury, a cervical collar for more effective immobilization, and stronger pain medication.