What Is A Neck Sprain?

A neck sprain occurs when there is a ligament sprain or muscle strain resulting in pain of the neck. A sprain is a stretch or tear in the ligament resulting from a sudden movement that causes the neck to extend to an extreme position. For example, in the rapid deceleration of a car crash, your head and neck can stretch far forward before stopping.

What parts of the neck are involved in a neck sprain?

Cervical NeckPainThe seven bones of the spinal column in your neck are called cervical vertebrae. They are connected to each other by ligaments, which are strong bands of tissue, like thick rubber bands. A sprain or even a tear can occur in one or more of these soft tissues when the neck is bent to an extreme position, resulting in a neck sprain.

What are the symptoms of a neck sprain?

The most common symptoms of a neck sprain is pain that worsens with movement. Sometimes the pain will not appear until a full day or two after the event that caused it. One will most likely have neck stiffness that hinders the ability to move your neck. You may also have pain in the shoulders or upper back. 

Other symptoms that may happen with a neck sprain include:

  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fatigue
  • Patchy numbness in the hands or arms
  • Headache

If you notice these symptoms after a whiplash-type incident, see a doctor for an evaluation to rule out a more serious problem, such as damage to the spinal cord. Arm or leg weakness, difficulty walking, or lack of bladder or bowel control are signs of spinal cord injury. If you have immediate neck pain after the incident, go to an emergency room.

If you think you may have a neck sprain, schedule an appointment with one of our spine specialists today!


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