Cover image of the article Neck Tendonitis: Symptoms and Treatment

neck tendonitis; Its symptoms and treatment

Neck tendonitis is irritation in the tendons that pass through the neck, causing symptoms, the most important of which is a pain in the neck that may spread to the shoulder. Rest is the most important factor in treating the disease.

Neck tendonitis is expected when the neck is repeatedly strained, such as sitting on a computer for long periods, and it also occurs frequently in cases of sleeping in the wrong position, which affects human activity so that he becomes unable to move his neck normally.

Long-term cervical tendinitis may lead to severe complications such as rupture of the inflamed tendon. Therefore, it is necessary to identify cervical tendonitis, distinguish its symptoms, and treat it urgently to reduce its complications that affect the life of the cervical tendonitis patient.

What is neck tendonitis?

Tendons are the fibrous cords that connect muscles to bones to transfer the mechanical force resulting from muscle contraction to the bones. These tendons are surrounded by sheaths of thin tissue that allow the tendons to slide inside.

We notice in the picture that the muscle's tendon is anchored to the bone by the bony anchor.
The tendon and its bony anchor

The neck tendons consist of two groups:

  1. Anterior neck tendons: include the tendon of the sternocleidomastoid muscle that connects it to the collar bone, in addition to the tendons of the patellar, sternohyoid, and scapularis.
  2. Posterior neck tendons: includes the tendons of the occipital, trapezius, semi-spinal, and capitosplenic muscles.

Neck tendinitis can be defined as irritation or inflammation of the cervical tendons or the surrounding sheaths, and this irritation occurs as a result of prolonged or abnormal use of the cervical tendons.

Although most types of tendinitis are caused by excessive use of the tendons, in the case of cervical tendinitis, the most common cause of the disease is the wrong neck position, whether at home or work.

The possibility of inflammation in the neck strings increases with age because the stretchability of the tendons becomes less with age and thus becomes more susceptible to stress and tension.

An image showing the effect of the wrong position of the neck on the tendons by bending the head forward for a long time, which causes stress on the tendons
The wrong position of the neck causes additional pressure on the tendons.

Symptoms of neck tendonitis

Symptoms of cervical tendonitis include:

  • Neck tendon pain: Where neck pain occurs along the tendon, especially when moving the neck, and neck pain is usually sharp and sudden and may be chronic, and the pain may spread to the shoulder as well.
  • Stiffness in the neck: Inflammation of the tendon sheath leads to its swelling and thus narrows the space through which the tendon moves, thus determining the tendon's natural movements.
  • Hearing a creaking sound when moving the neck: This sound is caused by the friction of the inflamed tendons with the neck muscles.
  • Swelling and redness around the neck area.
  • Neck tenderness - pain in the neck strings when touched.

Causes of neck tendonitis

Many causes may cause neck tendonitis, including:

  • The wrong neck position: It is considered the most common cause. The incorrect position of the neck may lead to inflammation of the tendons, as happens when the head is bent forward for a long time.
  • Repetitive neck stress: Neck tendonitis may result from frequent and prolonged sitting at a computer, desk, or work that requires long-distance driving.
  • Wrong sleeping position: The wrong sleeping position may cause inflammation in the neck strings, such as sleeping on the stomach, for example, as the sleeper is forced to rotate the head and neck for a long time to breathe, which leads to stress on the muscles and tendons of the neck and thus inflammation.
  • Neck sprain (whiplash): It is an injury to the neck resulting from a strong, sudden, and rapid movement back and forth of the neck between hyperextension (backward) and hyperflexion (forward). The injury causes damage to the spine (neck vertebrae), tendons, and nerves.
  • Diseases: Many diseases in the human body lead to weakness in the joints, tendons, and ligaments, such as rheumatic fever and gout, in addition to blood and kidney diseases.
  • Bruises: Bruises may lead to tendon damage or inflammation.
A picture showing the occurrence of neck twisting (whiplash) in the patient, with hyperextension (backward) and hyperflexion (forward)
neck sprain (whiplash)

Read more about Home and natural neck sprain treatment

Diagnosis of neck tendonitis

Usually, a clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose cervical tendinitis. Still, in some cases, the doctor may request X-rays, ultrasound scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to establish the correct and accurate diagnosis of the disease.

Neck tendonitis treatment

Treating inflammation here is very similar Shoulder tendinitis treatment or Knee tendinitis, As the most important procedure in treating neck tendonitis is to avoid what exacerbates or provokes inflammation, most cases can be treated by rest only. Still, in some cases, it may require other forms and treatment methods, such as surgical treatment.

Treating cervical tendonitis at home

The treatment begins with rest with ice packs on the neck to reduce the swelling and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve neck pain and reduce swelling.

In most cases, it is sufficient to manage them with home treatment, and the feeling of improvement begins within several days, but this treatment method should not be judged quickly. This is because it can take several months for the infection to heal fully.

Physiotherapy (physical/natural) for neck tendons

Physiotherapy is usually the first line in managing cervical tendonitis, as physiotherapy exercises help strengthen the tendons and muscles. Physiotherapy focuses on relieving neck pain in the first place and restoring the natural movement of the neck in the second place.

Physical therapy may include several techniques, including manual therapy, laser therapy, electrical stimulation of the tendons, moist heat, and ice therapy.

Physical therapy's importance lies in managing chronic inflammation of the tendons, as it puts the patient on the right path to recovery.

Image showing physiotherapy exercises that can be done to manage inflammation of the neck tendons. The exercises include an extension of the neck (backward), a flexion movement (forward), and tilting the head left and right
Physical therapy exercises for cervical tendonitis

Treating neck tendonitis with dry needles

This treatment is done by inserting dry needles into the affected tendon with the aim of stimulating it to shrink and contract, which helps relieve pain. Neck pain And improve range of motion.

An image showing the use of dry needles in treatment by inserting needles into the affected tendons in order to stimulate them
Dry needles

Ultrasound therapy

A small incision is made to access the tendon and remove scarring using ultrasound.

Surgical treatment

In some cases, the previous methods may not be sufficient for treatment, especially in cases of rupture or cutting of the tendons and the separation of the tendons from the bone, so it is necessary to perform surgery to treat the disease.

When the tendon ruptures, the doctor sews the torn ends of the muscle tendons together, and when the tendon separates, the doctor re-attaches the tendon to the bone.

Tendon surgery is followed by several weeks of rest to allow the tendon to heal fully. Physiotherapy helps to restore movement to the neck gradually.

Complications of neck tendonitis

Neck tendonitis has many serious complications that occur when the disease is neglected and not treated on time among these complications:

  • Tendon rupture: Long-term tendinitis may lead to tendon rupture, where the rupture manifests as severe pain, and the patient notices increased pain and swelling, and a popping sound caused by the rupture may be heard or felt, and the patient becomes unable to move the neck, and a permanent change in muscle function may occur—the neck.
  • Tendon contractures (tightening): where the tendon or its sheath hardens and tendon movements become limited.
  • Tendon scarring: Long-term inflammation may lead to scarring of the tendon and, thus, loss of function, and adhesions may occur with nearby anatomical structures.

Prevention of neck tendonitis

The possibility of neck tendonitis can be reduced by following the tips:

  • Correcting the wrong position of the neck; This depends on changing the lifestyle to correct the posture when sitting, standing, and walking, as correcting the posture contributes to relieving pressure on the tendons.
  • taking periodic breaks; This is recommended in cases of office work or sitting at the computer for long periods, where a rest period should be taken every 15-30 minutes in order to reduce pressure on the tendon.
  • Placing the computer screen upright with eye level to avoid looking down and thus avoid bending the head for long periods and reduce pressure on the neck strings.

Inflammation of the neck tendons often occurs due to the wrong neck position for long periods, leading to stress on the tendons and increasing the possibility of their inflammation. When neglecting treatment of inflammation of the tendons in the neck results in serious complications such as rupture of the tendon, and therefore it is necessary to know the symptoms and causes of inflammation of the tendons in the neck to diagnose the condition and treat it and thus avoid Complications that affect the human lifestyle.



Common questions

Symptoms of neck tendonitis include pain and tenderness when touching the neck, neck stiffness, swelling and redness in and around the neck, and a creaking sound when moving the neck.

Neck tendonitis can last for several weeks or months until complete recovery occurs.

Neck tendonitis can be cured in most cases through home treatment with rest and analgesics, and when using physical therapy, improvement is felt within a few days. Still, it may require a surgical procedure to heal in some cases.

A tendon and neck massage is useful in managing a tendon injury because it helps speed up the healing of tendonitis and relieve neck pain.

Hot water increases blood flow to the tendon and thus speeds up the healing of inflammation, so hot water is beneficial, especially in cases of chronic infections.

Make an appointment with Dr. Çetin Işık
In Istanbul

Make an appointment with Dr. Çetin Işık
In Istanbul