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Ruptured Tendons in the Neck

Updated April 17, 2017

A number of things can cause a ruptured tendon in the neck. Though these fibrous tissues which hold muscle to the bone sometimes snap if they are under unusual or extreme pressure. Heavy lifting, sports activity, having hypothyroidism or gout can cause a tendon to rupture. People with Type "O" blood are also more likely to suffer from a snapped tendon.

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Rupturing a tendon is not common but you can suffer one after enduring high physical stress. Sometimes injecting steroids into a tendon can cause a tear, but most often the tear is the result of participating in a high impact sport. In the neck, whiplash or a trip and fall can tear ligaments and tendons, as can sleeping in a strange position or using the wrong pillow for your neck. Neck joints can become inflamed because of prolonged movements or habits that realign your neck bones and muscles. Reduced blood flow, which happens as we age, can also cause tendons to rupture more easily.


The most common symptom of a torn ligament or tendon anywhere in the body is a snap or cracking noise made at the joint. The sound is followed by intense pain in the region. You will be unable to move the affected area in a full range of motion. In case of a ruptured neck tendon, you will probably be unable to turn your head or move it up and down. You might also experience bruising or swelling in the area. In the shoulder, a torn rotator cuff means you will be unable to raise your arms, and it might affect your use of the neck. If you have any unusual swelling or bruising accompanied by weakness in the area, consult your doctor immediately to prevent further damage.


Since the tendons usually have good blood flow when we are young, ruptures heal relatively quickly on their own. Patients with torn ligaments and tendons will have to take it easy while ruptures heal. They also might benefit from physiotherapy. While nursing a ruptured tendon in the neck, monitor the healing process closely as arm pain, tingling and numbness may occur, which can lead to other injuries. If you have a minor tear, applying heat or ice (at the advice of your doctor) can ease the pain as you heal.

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About the Author

Patricia K. Maggio is a freelance writer originally from Chicago, Ill. She has been living, studying or working in Europe since 2007, when she graduated with a B.A. in English from DePaul University. Most recently, her screenwriting work has appeared on BBC America and STYLE Network.

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