Cervical Spine Strains and Sprains
The human spine consists of three parts – the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine refers to the lower back, the thoracic spine refers to the middle of the back, and the cervical spine refers to the neck and upper back.
Of all cervical spine injuries, strains and sprains are some of the most common. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually describe two separate injuries. Sprains refer to injuries of the ligaments, the crisscross fibers that connect bone to bone and help stabilize joints. Strains refer to injuries of the muscle itself.
Cervical sprains and strains have similar symptoms. For instance, both types of injuries are often associated with pain, stiffness, or weakness. They have similar causes as well – overexertion, stretching, or tears are the most common causes for cervical sprains and strains.
Any number of things can cause cervical strains and sprains. These are some of the most common instances, which we are especially familiar with treating at Healthpointe.
Cervical strains often occur when the neck is stretched beyond its typical range of motion. Common causes include sudden, jerking motions, such as with sports-related injuries or car accidents. However, constant physical stress, such as poor posture or sleeping positions, can also cause cervical strain.
Cervical sprains generally occur when the neck bends in an extreme way that it is not used to. While this can include car accidents or sports injuries, overhead lifting and falls are often the culprit resulting in cervical sprains.
Am I experiencing a strain or a sprain?
As mentioned above, strains and sprains have similar symptoms, and it can sometimes be hard to determine what you are currently experiencing.
According to Medical News Today, there are some distinct differences between strains and sprains, as evidenced by the chart below:
|Can happen suddenly, but often gradually occur||Occur suddenly|
|Occurs in muscles||Ligaments/Joints|
|Muscle spasms, cramping, and weakness||Inability to put weight on the joint|
|Muscle tenderness||A “popping” sensation at time of injury|
However, the most sure-fire way to diagnose a cervical sprain or strain is by getting the area looked at by a doctor. For severe strains and sprains, it is important to get it checked out in order to ensure something more severe isn’t happening, such as a fracture or slipped disc. A doctor may perform an x-ray or MRI to verify that there isn’t a more serious issue at hand.
Treatment for cervical sprains and strains is about the same for either injury – time, rest, and ice. Some people find that heat and massages can relieve pain, but this course should be done at the recommendation of your doctor.
For more severe cases, you may be recommended a soft neck brace. Pain relievers may also be recommended on a case-by-case basis. As the injury starts to heal, other methods, such as stretches, exercise, and cervical traction, may be utilized, but again, these other methods should only be done at the direction of a medical professional.
Let us help you.
Healthpointe specializes in all aspects of spinal care, including cervical sprains and strains. With our guidance, we are confident that we can help relieve your pain and get you back on track. When you treat with us, you can rest assured that the process, at least, won’t be a pain in the neck.
Our doctors work alongside our patients to construct detailed treatment plans catered to each individual’s needs. To find out more about programs for cervical pain at Healthpointe, call (844) 887-7882, or visit healthpointe.net.