CommunityHealth Fix


HealthFix: Cervical spine injuries—Symptoms and treatment options

Posted at 8:52 AM, Nov 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-20 11:10:54-05

Cervical spine (neck) injuries, especially sprains and strains, are quite common in athletes. A neck strain occurs when one or more of the muscles or tendons in the neck stretches or tears from sudden movement. A neck sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments. Athletes who participate in contact sports are at a much higher risk of neck injuries.

Symptoms of neck sprains and strains

  • Pain in the back of neck that worsens with movement
  • Pain that peaks a day or more after the injury
  • Headache
  • Muscle spasms and pain in upper shoulders
  • Neck stiffness
  • Numbness in arm or hand
  • Tingling or weakness in the arms (these relate to more than a strain typically, let’s take them out).

Treatment of neck sprains and strains

All sprains in the body are generally treated in the same manner. It is important to remember that sprains heal gradually, so plenty of rest is necessary.

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory pain medications
  • Soft collar for neck support (I don’t do these typically unless there is a fracture)
  • Muscle relaxant to ease muscle spasms
  • Manual therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Gentle massage

Nick Monson, D.O.
Davis Hospital and Medical Center