Cervical Sprain & Strain
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A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the connective tissue that joins bone to bone. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon.
Tendons connect muscle to bone. The cervical spine (neck) is frequently sprained or strained from a rapid movement that causes the neck to flex or extend excessively (whiplash). This disproportionate movement may cause a stretching or tear of a ligament or muscle.
Fig. 1
Symptoms include:
  • Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulder area.
  • Neck pain that gets more severe with movement.
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion.
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand.
Fig. 2
Non-surgical treatment
  • Soft cervical collar to immobilize and support the sprained neck.
  • Cold therapy to stimulate blood flow and relieve the neck pain associated with inflammation. Cold therapy should be applied several times over the course of the day.
  • Heat to help loosen strained muscles and relieve neck pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn and Celebrex may be used to decrease neck pain. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting these medications.
  • Cervical (neck) traction.
Most neck pain symptoms abate with non-surgical treatment in four to six weeks.

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