Pain from an injury may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Acute injuries include:
An injury to the ligaments or muscles in the neck, such as a sprain or strain. When neck pain is caused by muscle strain, you may have aches and stiffness that spread to your upper arm, shoulder, or upper back. Shooting pain that spreads down the arm into the hand and fingers can be a symptom of a pinched nerve (nerve root compression). Shooting pain is more serious if it occurs in both arms or both hands rather than just one arm or one hand.
A fracture or dislocation of the spine. This can cause a spinal cord injury that may lead to permanent paralysis. It is important to use correct first aid to immobilize and transport the injured person correctly to reduce the risk of permanent paralysis.
A torn or ruptured disc. If the tear is large enough, the jellylike material inside the disc may leak out (herniate) and press against a nerve or the spinal cord (central disc herniation). You may have a headache, feel dizzy or sick to your stomach, or have pain in your shoulder or down your arm.
Emergency care is required for a neck injury that causes damage to the spinal cord. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include loss of movement or feeling, numbness, tingling, difficulty controlling the muscles of the arms or legs, and loss of bowel or bladder control.