n Spine - Neck Sprain - AOA Orthopedic Specialists

NECK SPRAIN / Neck Strain

What Is A Neck Sprain and Neck Strain?

A neck sprain occurs when there is a ligament in the neck that has been stressed to far and has a varying degree of tearing.  Neck strains and sprains are less likely to occur by the active pursuit of a healthy back. A neck strain is when a muscle in the neck is stretched too far and the muscle has a degree of tearing. A sprain or strain is a stretch or tear in the ligament, or respectively the muscle, 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 or Neck Strain?

Cervical NeckPainNeck Sprain

The 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.

Neck Strain

There are 26 muscles in the neck that both support the structure of the spine, stabilize the head, and allow for a wide range of controlled movement.  A strain occurs when a muscle is pulled beyond its range of motion.  This can occur after a high force impact, for example whiplash from a car wreck.  As we age our posture can deteriorate as well as the spine itself.  When our posture or skeletal structures are maligned it can put additional stress on a muscle.  This stressed muscle can tighten up in a attempt to get us to rest, but while it is contracted tightly normal movements can cause the muscle to tear.  One of the obvious differences between a strain and sprain is that when muscle tears it bleeds, so there may be visible bruising depending on how severe the strain is.

what are the Symptoms of a neck Sprain or Strain?

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 or neck fracture. If you have immediate neck pain after the incident, go to an emergency room.

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

Symptoms of a neck Strain

The vast majority of times that you strain your neck it will hurt for a while but get better on its own.  The neck will hurt and be stiff while it is healing.  The common symptoms of a neck strain are:

  • Pain that starts in the back of the neck that may radiate to the back of the head, down to the shoulder, or the upper back.
  • Pain that can get worse with movement.
  • Pain that is very sharp and stabbing like.
  • Deep throbbing pain
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Muscle spasms

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

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