Neck pain is a common occurrence and is typically mild and temporary. Even short-lived neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck, however. Let’s take a look at 10 top causes of neck injury and check out some tips on how to avoid neck trauma.

  1. Whiplash from a car accident or fall
  2. A traumatic blow to the spine, neck, shoulder, or upper chest
  3. Arthritis
  4. Cancer
  5. Inflammation
  6. Infection
  7. Disc degeneration
  8. Neck sprain
  9. Muscle strain

And, the most common cause of neck injury?

A simple ‘crick in the neck,’ usually from spending too long staring at a computer or television, using a smartphone, or sleeping in an awkward position.

Trauma to the spine can include things like a gunshot, knife wound, or blunt force trauma such as a ‘stinger’ or ‘burner’ in football. Neck sprains arise when ligaments in the cervical spine are overextended and are commonly linked to twisting and stretching movements.

Neck strain is where muscles in the spine are overextended or otherwise damaged. This can be due to overuse or abnormal movements. Neck strains and sprains are more common in people working in cold conditions or who do work overhead, which puts the spine in an awkward position.


Many common causes of neck injury are a matter of sheer bad luck. For example, you may become injured due to someone else’s poor driving or a freak accident. Safety measures can be taken to minimize risk even in situations that are somewhat out of your control, however. For instance, making sure that the headrest in your car is properly adjusted to your heat can help decrease the negative effects of an accident.

People who have a job or hobby that involves heavy lifting or other type of manual labour should also take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of neck injury. This means wearing relevant safety gear, taking breaks when appropriate, and being especially cautious about tasks performed in cramped conditions or cold temperatures.

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In addition to taking sensible precautions, how you handle a neck injury can make a big difference to short and long term consequences. After any neck injury it is smart to avoid things that may further exacerbate any underlying tissue damage. This means not playing contact sports or engaging in high impact activities until you have the all clear from your physician.

Neck injuries may not result in immediate symptoms, leading some people to postpone going to the hospital. This is common in cases of whiplash, where symptoms may arise a few days after an accident. Additional tissue damage can arise as a result of bleeding, swelling, and inflammation, as well as edema (fluid accumulation) that puts pressure on cervical spinal nerves or even the spinal cord.

If you have experienced a neck injury, be sure to get properly assessed by a physician.