Cervical sprains and strains are some of the most common injuries to the neck region. Both sprains and strains have symptoms of pain, stiffness, muscle spasms and/or weakness. However, a cervical sprain is an injury to the ligaments of the neck, where as a strain is injury to the muscles or tendons of the neck. Each one of these injuries can be especially bothersome to those they affect, and are typically caused by the stretching or tearing of soft tissues. Tissues can become damaged or torn from an overexertion of the neck often from an acceleration-deceleration injury such as whiplash. Other common causes of cervical sprain include falling, contact sports, weight lifting or poor posture while sitting at a desk for an extended period of time. Upon developing severe numbness following a car accident, it is important to immediately seek medical care. A Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine physician will give a full evaluation to determine the existence of cervical sprain or strain and prescribe a proper treatment regimen.
Some patients may be required to wear a soft neck brace also referred to as a cervical collar. The collar is used to support the painful tissues in the neck and to manage muscle spasms and fatigue. These soft adjustable collars are usually used for short-term use to aid in the healing process.
For more severe cases of cervical sprain/strain physical therapy may be prescribed. Physical therapy is used to strengthen the muscles and/or ligaments in the neck, restore full range of motion and decrease inflammation. Slow therapeutic stretching is also a safe and effective way for the afflicted to learn the proper ways to move in order to not incite pain.