Acute neck pain is normally due to joint or muscle strain (overstretching or tearing of tendons and muscles) or soft tissue sprain (stretching or tearing of ligaments). These types of neck injuries are usually the result of sudden unexpected forces applied to the body, such as whiplash during car accidents or through sporting activities. Neck strains can also occur from instances where an awkward position is adopted for a prolonged period of time, such as sleeping in the wrong position or poor work posture.
The soft tissue in the neck has a good blood supply so in most cases, minor injuries to the ligaments and tendons in the neck will heal quite quickly, usually providing relief from the neck pain within a few days or weeks. Non-surgical care, such as ice and/or heat, as well as physiotherapy, may reduce the recovery time and alleviate pain during the healing process.