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Neck Strain (cont.)

Neck Strain Causes and Risk Factors

Neck strains result from injury to the neck. Such injuries are caused most often by the indirect trauma when the head is flung backward (hyperextension) or forward (hyperflexion), commonly known as whiplash. Injuries caused by rotation and compression (when the force of impact lands on the top of the head) can also result in neck strains and soft-tissue injury.

  • Automobile accidents are responsible for many whiplash injuries because of hyperextension or hyperflexion. A common scenario is when a seat-belted person's head continues to move forward during a frontal impact and is then often thrown backward (the converse is also true). Side impacts typically result in bending of the head to that side, and rear impact tends to throw the head backward. Any or all of these movements usually result in whiplash.
  • People with occupations requiring repetitive or prolonged neck extension (microtrauma) may develop neck strain injury. Picture someone sitting at a computer keyboard, for example, straining to see a monitor that is not adjusted properly for the person's posture. Also, the person may be trying to see the monitor through poorly adjusted bifocal lenses and must tip the chin upward to view the screen. Now tuck a telephone into the person's shoulder for much of the day, and you have a formula for neck strain. With the increase use of computers at home, even the time away from your work can add to this injury.
  • Some people appear prone to neck strain injuries merely as the result of an abnormal posture while awake or from sleeping in an awkward position.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/20/2014

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