A pulled neck muscle, or muscle strain, occurs when a muscle becomes stretched or torn as a result of physical exertion. Strains can happen while playing sports, during a fall or when lifting something heavy. Overuse of neck muscles, such as spending long hours at a desk, can also lead to muscle strain. There are several symptoms to look for if you suspect a pulled neck muscle.
The pain of a pulled neck muscle can manifest as sharp, intense or burning. It usually appears on one side of the neck. Pain can also radiate into the head or into the shoulder and arm.
Limited movement and muscle weakness is common with a neck injury. The neck can stiffen up, making it difficult to turn your head.
You may experience twitching muscles or spasms in or around the injury. Numbness and tingling can also occur. These are signs that one or more nerves may have been affected.
Swelling can occur around a muscle injury, causing the skin to become red, puffy and tender to the touch.
Some pulled or strained muscles can cause bruising and discolouration in the affected area. This is often the sign of a more serious muscle tear.