Ligaments normally stretch as the joints move. A sprain is caused by a force that makes a ligament stretch farther than it should. The force is usually the result of an accident or trauma. Some forces can cause tears in the ligament tissue.
|Cervical Spine (Neck)|
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Neck sprain may cause:
- Neck pain that gets worse with movement, especially in the back of the neck
- Shoulder pain and muscle spasms
- Tingling sensations or weakness in the arms
- Headache, especially in the back of the head
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Stiffness and difficulty moving the head in 1 or more direction
You will be asked about your symptoms, medical history, and how you injured your neck. A physical exam will be done. The stability of your neck will be checked to look for any nerve damage.
Images may be needed of your neck. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
Neck sprains are graded according to the amount of injury:
- Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of ligaments
- Grade 2—Partial tearing of ligaments
- Grade 3—Complete tearing of ligaments
Strict rest is rarely necessary. The neck can be moved as long as it does not increase pain.
Ice and Heat
Ice may help decrease swelling and pain in the first few days after the injury.
After a couple of days, heat may help loosen tight or injured muscles. Wait for swelling to go away before using heat therapy.
Medication can help to relieve discomfort and swelling. Medications may include:
- Over-the-counter pain medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen
- Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
- Prescription pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Therapy may be needed for severe sprains. Some therapeutic methods include:
- Cervical traction—a special technique to stretch the neck and reduce muscle spasm
- Physical therapy—restores flexibility, range of motion , and strength in your neck
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
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