A neck sprain is caused by injury to the support structures (soft tissues) of the neck. These support structures include muscles, tendons and ligaments.
- Tendons are what connect muscle to bone.
- Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
They support and help move the head and neck.
When any of these structures are stretched more than usual, often suddenly, you may experience pain and spasm around that area. In more severe cases, your neck sprain may be caused by partial tears in these structures.
The neck is also made up of other vital structures such as bone and blood vessels. These are not typically a cause of injury in neck sprain.
Meleger, A. L., & Krivickas, L. S. (2007). Neck and Back Pain: Musculoskeletal Disorders. [Review Article]. Neurologic Clinics, 25, 419-438.