The neck is comprised of seven bones from the spinal cord that are connected to one another by the ligaments and the muscles. A neck sprain can occur in any of these tissues during abrupt movements, such as a hard fall or vehicular accident that causes the neck to bend in an extreme position.
Depending on how the neck sprain was incurred, it is best to consult a doctor if the discomfort and pain can disrupt your daily activities.
Neck sprain symptoms
An individual who is suffering from a neck sprain usually experiences a variety of symptoms that varies from one person to another. In some cases, these symptoms are minor and could not cause any interference on daily activities, but it can be debilitating for some that they could not continue with their activities.
- Pain in the back part of the neck that is worsened by movement
- Muscle spasms accompanied with pain in the upper shoulder
- Pain that worsens 1-2 days after the injury instead of instantaneously
- Sore throat
- Headache in the back region of the head
- Arm or hand numbness
- Irritability, difficulty sleeping and concentration as well as fatigue
- Tingling sensation or weakness in the arms
- Stiffness of the neck or diminished range of motion
Diagnosing a neck sprain
When diagnosing a neck sprain, the doctor will perform a physical examination. Questions asked involves how the injury was sustained while measuring the range of motion of the neck and inspection for tenderness.
An X-ray is requested in order to identify the source of the neck pain such as arthritis, spinal fractures, dislocations and other conditions.
Treatment for a neck sprain
Regardless of the location of a sprain, they are treated the same. With a neck sprain, it typically heals in a gradual manner as long as it is given enough time and appropriate treatment. In most cases, a soft collar around the neck should be worn to provide support to the head as well as relieve pressure on the ligaments.
Pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be administered to minimize the pain and swelling. Ice packs can be applied for 15-30 minutes several times in a day for the initial 2-3 days right after the injury. This will help minimize the inflammation and the discomfort. Even though heat can help, it must not be applied right away.
There are also other treatment options for a neck sprain such as massaging the tender area, cervical traction, ultrasound as well as aerobic and isometric exercises. Always remember that majority of the symptoms of a neck sprain typically goes away in a span of 4-6 weeks. Nevertheless, cases that involve severe injuries will take a longer time to heal completely.
If an individual is experiencing neck sprain, there are first aid measures that you can perform to minimize the pain until it eventually goes away on its own.