The seven bones of the spinal column in your neck area (cervical vertebrae) are associated with each other by ligaments and muscles, strong bands of tissue that act like thick rubber bands. A sprain (stretch) or tear can occur in one or more of these soft tissues whenever a sudden movement, such as a motor vehicle collision or a hard fall, forces the neck to bend to a severe position. Neck sprains are a condition that many people in the Central Missouri area face. If you live in Mexico, Moberly, Columbia, or Jefferson City, Missouri, seriously consider this information from Audrain Orthopaedics in Mexico, MO.
A person with a neck sprain may experience numerous possible symptoms.
• Pain, especially in the back of the neck, that worsens with movement
• Pain that peaks a day or two following the injury, rather than immediately
• Muscle spasms and pain in the upper shoulder
• Headache in the back of the head
• Sore throat
• Increased irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating
• Numbness in the arm or hand
• Neck stiffness or diminished range of motion (side to side, up and down, circular)
• Tingling or weakness in the arms
To diagnose a neck sprain, your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination. In the physical examination, the doctor will ask you how the injury occurred, measure the range of motion of your neck, and look for any point of tenderness.
To look closely at the bones in your neck, your physician may request x-rays. This evaluation will help your doctor rule out or identify other sources of neck pain, such as spinal fractures, dislocations, arthritis, and other serious conditions.
All sprains or strains, regardless of where they are located within the body, are treated in a similar way. Neck sprains, like other sprains, will normally heal gradually, given time and appropriate treatment. You may have to wear a soft collar around your neck to help support the head and relieve pressure on the ligaments so they have time to mend.
Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help lessen the pain and any swelling. Muscle relaxants can help ease spasms. You can apply an ice pack for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, several times a day for the first 2 or 3 days after the injury. This will help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Though heat, especially moist heat, can help relax cramped muscles, it really should not be applied too quickly.
Other treatment options include:
• Massaging the tender area
• Cervical (neck) traction
• Aerobic and isometric exercise
The majority of symptoms of neck sprain will go away in four to six weeks. However, severe injuries may take longer to heal entirely.
If you have any other questions about neck sprains or other orthopedic health issues, contact Doctor Kathleen Weaver at Audrain Orthopaedics in Mexico, MO.