A Cervical Sprain or Cervical Strain in the Neck ?
Posted Mar 31 2010 12:00am
A cervical strain/sprain injury can happen many ways- a fall, whiplash from an accident, a quick turn, even sleeping in an awkward position. You often here that someone suffered a sprain/strain type of injury- what does that mean exactly and what is the ?
A strain mostly refers to the muscle and tendons. A strain occurs when that muscle or tendon over stretches and contracts suddenly beyond its normal limits. This overstretching can cause microtears along the muscles. In acute conditions this can happen in one motion. For instance, during a violent sneeze or checking your blind spot quickly. Symptoms of an acute cervical strain can involve pain, muscle spasms, loss of strength, and limited range of motion in the neck. A strain can also occur overtime with such activities that involve repetition. These type of chronic strain injuries gradually build up from overuse or repetitive stress such as long hours on the computer , poor ergonomics or talking on the telephone with your neck bent constantly.
A sprain injury refers to the stretching or tearing of ligaments or joint capsules. Joints capsules provide stability to vertebrae. Ligaments are thick bands of tissues that connects bone to bone. Sprains often occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. It can lead to instability, bruising, swelling, pain, limited range of motion and inflammation. This can occur in the neck when one turns too much beyond their normal movement.
However, it’s virtually impossible to have one without the other. You may strain a muscle like your trapezius , but that trapezius attaches to other muscle, bone, and joints; this is where you have connective tissue.
When a muscle of a joint is strained or sprained it can then affect spinal alignment . This will lead to pressure on the nerves and therefore pain. Not to mention inflammation which also creates nerve pressure. In addition, nerves come through muscles, which is why you may have tenderness in that local region of the body.
One of the best recommendations for this kind of injury is some gentle neck traction which will help restore neck alignment and alleviate nerve pressure. Ice following the neck traction can help as well to reduce any possible inflammation.