I Have a Neck Sprain: What Should I Do?

Also known as whiplash, a neck sprain is one of the most common injuries that spine specialists see among hundreds of patients every year. Whether you are an athlete or a physically active individual, whether you are young or old, you may be at risk of sustaining a neck sprain.

Neck sprains can greatly decrease the range of motion of the neck and impact your day-to-day activities in numerous ways. Symptoms include:

  • Delayed pain after injury
  • Pain that worsens with movement
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms in the shoulders
  • Numbness in the arms or hands

What Causes Neck Sprains?

The spinal column stretches from the back of the skull to the lower back, and it is supported by soft tissues called ligaments. A neck sprain injury is an excessive stretching or tearing of the ligaments supporting the 7 bones of the spine that make up the neck. This is often triggered by a sudden movement that bends the neck beyond its natural range, during incidents such as,

  • A motor vehicle accident
  • A hard fall
  • A blow to the head or neck
  • Playing contact sports, such as football or hockey
  • And more.

How to Cure Neck Sprains

As with any other sprain, a neck sprain can typically be treated with rest, ice, and pain relief medications. Ice is most effective when applied during the first 2 days after injury, several times a day for 15 to 30 minutes each time. Once the initial pain and/or swelling has subsided, heat application is recommended to ease the cramped muscles in the neck.

To speed up your recovery, it is best to visit a dedicated spine specialist for professional diagnosis and treatment. In addition to the above, your doctor may recommend wearing a neck collar during the day and placing a rolled-up towel beneath your neck at night to support your head and allow the ligaments to heal. Other solutions may include massage, aerobic exercise, and more.

Why suffer in silence when the answer to your neck sprain is just one call away? We welcome you to speak with Sarasota/Bradenton’s top spine physicians at Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management today. We look forward to designing an effective treatment plan especially for you!