Desert Institute for Spine Disorders, PC
480-656-4048            "Here to save your lifestyle."

Neck Strain

The seven cervical spine vertebrae are connected to each other by a series ligaments which are strong bands of tissue that act like thick rubber bands. A sprain (stretch) or tear can occur in one or more of these ligaments when a sudden movement, such as a motor vehicle accident or a hard fall, causes the neck to extend to an extreme position.  Neck strain can occur in patients with pre-existing asymptomatic neck arthritis or degeneration and can often create a challenge in identifying the cause of the patients pain.

Symptoms
  • Pain, especially in the back of the neck, that worsens with movement
  • Pain that peaks a day or so after the injury, instead of 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
  • Neck stiffness or decreased range of motion (side to side, up and down, circular)
Diagnosis

To diagnosis a neck sprain, your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination. During the physical examination, the doctor will ask you how the injury occurred, measure the range of motion of your neck, and check for any point tenderness.

Radiographs (X-rays) may be requested so the doctor can look closely at the bones in your neck. This evaluation will help the doctor rule out or identify other sources of neck pain, such as spinal fractures, dislocations, arthritis, and other serious conditions.

Treatment

All sprains or strains, no matter where they are located in the body, are treated in a similar manner. Neck sprains, like other sprains, will usually 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 heal.

Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and any swelling. Muscle relaxant 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. Although heat, particularly moist heat, can help loosen cramped muscles, it should not be applied too quickly.

Other treatment options include:

  • Gentle massaging the tender area
  • Modalities such as ultrasound
  • Limited cervical (neck) traction
  • Aerobic and isometric exercise
  • Core Trunk Stabilization 

 

Most symptoms of neck sprain will go away in 4 to 6 weeks. However injuries occuring in the setting of other organic spine problem can delay the patients recovery.

Desert Institute for Spine Disorders

8573 E. Princess Dr.  Suite #221

Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Office (480) 656-4048

Fax (480) 247-6146

www.AZSpineSurgeon.com