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Neck injuries commonly result from athletics. Neck mobility is essential for most sports and injuries often occur when soft tissues are stretched beyond their limits. These tissues connect the seven cervical vertebrae, bones of the neck, to each other as well as the head and the torso and include ligaments between the bones, discs, cartilage and tendons which extend between muscle and bone. In addition, discs provide a cushion between the vertebrae allowing for motion. Since the spinal cord and nerves travel through the spinal canal portion of the vertebrae they are often affected as well resulting in radiating pain and possibly numbness or weakness.

Neck injuries can occur in any sport but are more common in collision sports such as football, rugby, hockey and lacrosse. Arthritis of the neck, seen in older athletes can predispose to more significant symptoms from lesser injuries but most will still resolve with proper conservative care.