Neck Sprains and Strains

Neck Sprains and Strains

Are you battling a sore neck? Neck pain can occur for many reasons and sometimes it can be quite debilitating. If you are struggling to move your neck from side-to-side or have chronic discomfort, don’t wait to get help. Turn to our neck pain doctor in New Jersey for more information and to find out what is causing your pain.

Why Do You Have Neck Pain From Strains and Sprains?

The dull ache and uncomfortable pressure in your neck is not something overlook. If you’ve been in a car accident, sports accident, or another situation in which your spinal column or back was jolted quickly, you’ll want to seek out care from our team right away. The neck is one of the strongest and most complex areas of the body. It has a great deal of work to do to hold up the head and to allow for your movement. When you’ve been in an accident, for example, and the spinal column and muscles located in this area are faced with that force, it can cause straining. This can be painful and debilitating or just a chronic level of discomfort. In all cases, you need medical help for it.

Stress and pressure on the neck like this can cause lasting damage if not properly treated. It is always wise to turn to our team as soon as you feel you’ve put your neck at risk like this, but even if you’ve suffered from chronic or ongoing pain and discomfort, it’s important to seek out medical help right away. Our professionals will provide a full examination and try to determine what the underlying cause of the pain is and then offer treatment. It may be possible to restore full movement and reduce all of the pain you feel. However, delaying getting help can lead to ongoing complications. For a neck strain or sprain doctor in New Jersey, call our team right away.

Cervical sprain or strain occurs when a neck ligament or muscle fails to withstand a force.  Sometimes cervical sprains and strains are called hyperflexion and hyperextension disorders.  Excessive motion in any direction can cause ligament, tendon or muscle fibers to stretch beyond normal.

  • Sprains affect ligaments, tendons.
  • Strains affect muscles.
  • Hyperflexion – excessive forward motion
  • Hyperextension – excessive backward motion

Whiplash is the most common cause for neck sprain and strain.  Another name for whiplash is Cervical Acceleration-deceleration (CAD) injury, which describes the quick and successive forward and backward ‘whipping’ motion of the head supported by the neck.  This type of injury is often associated with being rear-ended in a motor vehicle.

Typical symptoms

Neck pain varies between mild and severe and may travel (radiate) into your upper shoulders and arms (one or both sides).  Stretching or tearing of soft tissue (ligaments, muscles) contributes to muscle spasms, swelling and a stiff neck.  You may feel odd sensations such as pins and needles, numbness and tingling.  Some symptoms mimic a different type of spinal problem such as cervical disc herniation.  A cervical sprain or strain can make it difficult and uncomfortable to sit upright, work at a computer, look over your shoulder, or drive.

Diagnostic examination

The purpose of a diagnostic examination is to learn about your general health, lifestyle, past medical history, and current cervical problem.  The information gathered by our staff during your exam is combined with imaging or other test results to confirm your diagnosis.

Questions our doctors may ask include:

  • When did your neck pain start?
  • Did a particular event precede neck pain?
  • Has your pain improved or worsened?
  • Does neck pain radiate into another part of your body?
  • On a scale of zero (no pain) to 10 (agony), what is your current pain level?
  • Does pain affect your ability to work or perform ordinary activities of daily life?
  • Do pain and symptoms disrupt your sleep?
  • Other questions specifically related to you and your symptoms.

MRI is performed to evaluate your spine.  Sometimes a plain x-ray is ordered.  Depending on the results of your examination and MRI, our doctors may conduct electrodiagnostic studies.

Sprain and strain treatment

Rarely is surgery needed to treat a neck sprain or strain!

Non-surgical interventional treatment often includes wearing a cervical brace for a short time (a few weeks).  Interventional means to ‘intervene’ to stop and manage pain while you heal. A brace supports your neck, stabilizes it, reduces movement, and removes the weight of your head off tender cervical structures.

Short-term use of a muscle relaxant and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may be prescribed to help you benefit more fully from physical therapy.

There are two types of physical therapy: (1) passive and (2) active.

  • Ice, heat, ultrasound, massage, and electrical stimulation are typical passive therapies.
  • Active physical therapy incorporates stretching and strengthening movements—according to your ability with a home exercise program.
  • Passive and active therapies help increase circulation, improve cervical flexibility and strength, and speed healing.

During physical therapy, you learn about proper posture, ergonomics, and body mechanics to protect your back and neck whether you are at rest or during activity.

Acupuncture is a complementary, non-operative and drug-free treatment we may recommend in addition to bracing and physical therapy.