Neck Injuries Neck-Pain Information

Neck Injuries Neck-Pain Information

The human head isn’t mobile on its own. It depends on the neck and part of the upper back not only for its stability, but also to perform motions like side-to-side nodding and tilting, front-to-back nodding and tilting, and rotation. The freedom of movement provided by the neck is functionally wonderful, but the trait unfortunately leaves the neck at high risk of injury. It’s estimated that neck traumas account for up to 10% of all trauma injuries seen in emergency rooms. Neck pain can be the result of a traumatic event, such as a fall, sporting accident, or vehicle accident, or from an overuse or misuse injury.





Neck Injuries - Neck Pain

Anatomy Of The Neck

The neck is anatomically divided into the anterior cervical area, which is the front of the neck where the throat is, and the posterior cervical area, which is the back of the neck. Since most neck injuries occur in the posterior cervical area, the neck anatomy here will be focused on the structures found in the back of the neck only.

The posterior cervical area technically begins at the base of the skull (C1 vertebra) and extends to the C7 vertebra. These are the cervical vertebrae (bones) of the spine. Not to get too complicated, but the cervical vertebrae have some features not found in the lower vertebrae. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are so unique that they’re the only vertebrae to have a name and number. The C1 is called the atlas. It’s a ring of bone that’s broadened on each side to support the weight of the head and allow the spinal cord to pass into the spinal column. The atlanto-occipital joints are between the atlas and bottom of the skull. This joint allows the head to nod and tilt front to back. The C2, or axis, features a tooth-like process called the odontoid. It projects upwardly toward the atlas. The odontoid is held in place by strong ligaments and acts like a pivot for the atlas. The atlanto-axial joints are between the atlas and axis. These joints are what allow the head to rotate.

Aside from the atlas, all the cervical vertebrae are shaped alike - a drum-like body with two short pedicles projecting backward from the central body; the two bony plates (laminae) that extend back from the pedicles, meet in the middle, and fuse; neural foramen (the hole that the spinal cord, blood supply, and nerves travel down); and upper and lower articular processes, each of which has a facet (articular joint surface) that interlocks with the next vertebral facet. The surfaces of the facets are covered with articular cartilage to prevent bone to bone friction.

There are also structures called intervertebral discs that are attached to vertebrae by thin plates of cartilage called vertebral end plates. The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers between vertebrae and provide the spine with flexibility. The outer part of each intervertebral disc is a tire-like ring (the annulus fibrosus). The inner part is composed of gel-like substance (the nucleus pulposus).

There are several long ligaments that connect the vertebrae. The main ligaments are the anterior longitudinal ligament, posterior longitudinal ligament, and ligamentum flavum.

The main muscles involved in neck injuries are the scalenus anterior, scalenus medius, scalenus posterior, levator scapula, longus capitis, rectus capitis, semispinalis capitis, splenius capitis, and trapezuis.

The neck also has an intricate blood and nerve supply.

What Causes Neck Pain And Injuries?

As mentioned above, the neck having such an extensive range of motion leaves it highly susceptible to injury. Because the bones, ligaments, muscles, and other supporting structures work so closely together during neck movements, injury to one structure often leads to the nearby structures also being damaged.

Injury to the neck is often from traumatic accidents. The trauma may be from a direct blow or force to the neck during a sporting event, vehicle accident, workplace accident, or fall. Overuse, repetitive stress, and degenerative processes may also be the source of injury. Many are surprised that even simple everyday activities, such as frequently holding a phone under the chin or sleeping on a pillow that doesn’t properly support the neck, can often result in neck injuries. Certain medical conditions, such as cervical arthritis, fibromyalgia, infections of the spine, and cancer involving the spine, may also be a source of neck pain and injury.

Common Neck Injuries

Neck injuries range from mild to life threatening. Let’s look at some of the types of neck injuries:

Neck Strains

When a muscle in the neck is abnormally stretched or torn, it’s medically referred to as a strain. Such injuries are most often the result of a sudden trauma or force that slings the head and neck backward (hyperextend) and/or forward (hyper-flexed), thereby abnormally stretching or tearing the muscle. In cases of acute injuries, the strain is usually worse if the muscle is contracted at the point of impact. Cervical strains may also be the result of repetitive or prolonged actions, movements, or postures that place stress upon the muscles in the neck. Examples of such would be computer work or watching television with the neck tilted up and/or outstretched for long periods of time. Strains are graded one through three based on the degree of injury, with one being stretching that doesn’t limit muscle function and three being extensive or complete tearing that results in loss of muscle function.

Neck Sprains

Sprains are the abnormal stretching or tearing of a ligament. The injury occurs under circumstances much like described under the cervical strain section. Like strains, sprains are also graded one through three based on the degree or stretching and tearing. Strains and sprains often occur together. In the neck, strains and sprains of a traumatic nature are often collectively described as whiplash.

Neck Contusions

Contusions are bruises to the soft tissues in the neck caused by a direct blow to the area. These may be mild and cause nothing more than a little localized tenderness. The black and blue appearance is from tiny capillaries being damaged from the blow and leaking blood into the soft tissues. If too much blood collects in the damaged soft tissues, a hematoma (lumpy area) may form. However, when the direct blow has substantial force behind it, the contusion may be extensive and be accompanied by sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and so forth.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is when the nucleus pulposus part of the disc bulges out through a crack or break in the annulus fibrosus. The pain associated with a herniated disc is actually from the pressure and irritation the herniated disc causes to the surrounding nerves.

Neck Fractures

Neck fractures occur when one of the seven cervical vertebrae suffer a blow that causes a break in the continuity of the bone. In severe cases, a piece of the fractured bone may cause irreversible damage to the spinal cord and result in paralysis, or even death. It takes considerable force to fracture a cervical vertebra, but the bone may fracture from sudden or violent twisting of the neck or a hard blow to the neck.

Strengthening Exercises

These Neck Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.

Massage Treatment

These Neck Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics liniments, soaks and massage oil.




This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.




The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the neck because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured neck, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured neck as they neck up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the neck, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the neck, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the neck can strengthen and regain it's mobility.




1. Massage your neck with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

2. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.





This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.



The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your neck that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your neck may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your neck you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the neck, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.



1. Massage your neck with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Relaxing Soak can be used in-between applications.

2. Soak your neck with the Sinew Relaxing Soak to relax muscles and tendons that are in spasm, ease joint pain and stiffness, and improve range of motion. The Sinew Relaxing Soak is particularly useful if you feel restricted mobility in your neck. The soak can be used by saturating a towel in the liquid and applying it to your neck. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.