Pulled Neck Muscle: How Long Does It Take To Heal?

Neck pain and stiffness from a pulled neck muscle can be aggravating and disrupt your daily activities. But how long does it actually take for a pulled neck muscle to heal? Here’s what you need to know about recovering from this common injury.

What Is A Pulled Neck Muscle?

A pulled neck muscle means you have strained one of the muscles in your neck. This causes pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and reduced range of motion in your neck as you turn or tilt your head.

Common causes include:

The sternocleidomastoid muscle at the side of the neck and the trapezius muscle between the neck and shoulders are most susceptible to strains.

How Long Does A Pulled Neck Muscle Take To Heal?

The recovery timeline for a pulled neck muscle depends on the severity of the strain:

  • Mild strain: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Moderate strain: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Severe strain with muscle tearing: 4 to 8 weeks

For the first few days after the injury, you will experience significant pain and difficulty moving your neck. This should gradually improve over the first week.

After the initial inflammation subsides, you may continue to feel nagging stiffness and tightness for several more weeks as the damaged muscle fibers fully repair themselves and regain strength and flexibility.

Factors That Influence Healing Time

  • Age – Muscles recover slower as we get older
  • Existing conditions – Such as arthritis or bone spurs
  • Activity level – Frequent use of the injured muscle delays healing
  • Severity – Partial tears take longer than mild strains
  • Re-injury – Aggravating the injury before it has healed

Treating A Pulled Neck Muscle

While initial healing takes time, you can promote recovery and ease discomfort by:

  • Resting your neck and avoiding movements that trigger pain
  • Applying ice packs to reduce inflammation
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
  • Trying gentle stretches and exercises to restore mobility once the acute pain subsides
  • Using a soft cervical collar to support the neck if needed
  • Getting massage therapy after the first few days

See your doctor if pain persists beyond two weeks or you experience numbness, tingling, and weakness in your arms hands. These require further evaluation to rule out a cervical disc herniation or pinched nerve.

With proper rest and care, most pulled neck muscles heal within a few weeks. But don’t rush your recovery – give your injured muscle the time it needs to repair itself fully and regain strength. Taking it easy now can prevent reinjury later.