• Dr. James Fonner

Understanding Cervical Strain

Cervical strain is the medical term for neck pain or neck strain. Cervical strain or cervical sprain can have many causes, and these cause damage to the tissue of the cervical spine. Symptoms can include numbness, severe pains, and spasms. This article looks at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of cervical strain.



What Is Cervical Strain?


In a nutshell, a cervical strain is a stretched or torn tendon muscle in the person's neck. It can range in severity but is characterized by sharp pain.


What Causes Cervical Strain?


There are at least two common causes of a cervical sprain. When the soft tissues of the neck are stressed suddenly or over time, this may affect the cervical spine and lead to much pain.

The most common cause of severe cervical strain is a sudden injury from a car accident or sports incident. In such instances, the neck is pushed beyond its range of motion limits and jolt the head back and forth, resulting in neck strain. Another name for this type of injury and motion is whiplash.


Another potential cause of neck pain is the low-stress strains that come from bad posture or a poor workspace setup.


Symptoms of Neck Strain


There are several tell-tale signs of neck strain that anyone in this position may experience. Depending on the origins and extent of the condition, the symptoms can span from minor to severe. Some typical examples of cervical strain symptoms include:

  • Pain or stiffness of the neck

  • Muscle spasms

  • Pain in the upper back and shoulder

  • Headaches originating from the neck base

  • Numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms or even legs

  • Sleeplessness

  • Difficulties concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Trouble walking

  • High fever

Whether a person experiences muscle spasms, they feel numbness in the arms and muscles, their range of motion goes down, or any other symptoms of a neck injury, there is usually a way to treat them.


Is a Cervical Spine Sprain Serious?


Although a neck sprain is not considered a serious injury, it can lead to intense pains. On the other hand, the patient may experience numbness. It boils down to the source and nature of the injury strains on the soft muscle tissues of the next.


How Long Does a Cervical Sprain Last?


It may take a few weeks for a cervical strain to heal. More severe cases of a neck muscle strain can take a few months. Anyone experiencing any of the above symptoms of neck strain injury can look into the various treatment options available.



How Do You Treat a Cervical Strain?


There is more than one way to treat a neck strain injury. Anyone experiencing muscle spasms, neck pain, and any other symptoms should seek help and medical advice from a medical doctor. If the condition came from a major car or sports accident or injury, the patient might require a physical examination and a more extensive treatment method. If the neck pains developed over time from poor posture and a strained workspace, the patient might need less help from a medical provider.


When the neck strain is not severe, the muscles may heal on their own. In-home self-care may suffice if the symptoms are not severe. If they do persist, however, it is best to see and consult a medical doctor.


There are various treatment methods available to the neck pain patient. The primary goal of these methods is to reduce the pain and inflammation in the neck. Neck pains can also limit a patient's neck movements, so the treatment is useful to increase their range of motion and return the individual to normal health.


Medicine

Medication is commonly used to treat neck strain. The doctor may prescribe some medication, or the patient can find it over-the-counter (OTC). The primary goal of such medicine is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation of the neck tissue and muscles.

If the patient has experienced prolonged muscle spasms, the health provider may recommend some muscle relaxants. These treatments can help reduce the occurrence of a muscle spasm.


Moving and Applying Pressure

Another way of treating neck strain is performing some muscle-stretching exercises. The patient can do these from home, and they are beneficial if the pain is a result of wrong posture and an improper sitting position. Doing a little stretching and physical movement with the neck can help to reduce the numbness and stiffness of neck muscles. It is always a good idea to search for more information and see a medical doctor about all the different treatments. Not every method is ideal for every level of neck pain.


In addition to some daily neck exercises, it may also be useful to get a neck massage. Once again, this method can decrease stiffness in the neck muscles. A neck massage can be done at home, at a massage parlor, or by a physical therapy professional. Over time, the range of motion increases. The patient should exercise care regarding how intense the neck muscle exercises and massage are. It is best to be gentle to prevent additional strains and pain.


Other Ways to Treat Cervical Strain

An ice pack or hot pack can be used to reduce the pain and swelling of the neck. The patient can alternate between the two for 30 minutes each day. Additionally, practicing good posture is important to avoid exacerbating the cervical spine strain.


How to Prevent Neck Pain


Prevention is always better than cure, and in the case of the neck, there may be some actions that everyone can take to prevent such conditions. Most sudden causes of neck strains are difficult to foresee and control, but the low-stress long-term causes of neck pains may be reduced and prevented.


One of the leading causes of neck strain covered already is poor posture. For those who work in a sedentary position, it is easy to develop neck muscle strain from sitting in the wrong position and crouching over their desks with the head and shoulders forward. In this position, the neck slants forward, and the head is in front of the shoulder. Many cases of neck strains occur because of this. A wrong sitting posture strains the muscles in the neck and the supporting soft tissues of the ligaments. If this is not corrected over time, a cervical spine injury can result.


There are many ways to prevent neck strain. Here are some of the best suggestions, and more information can be found from a health provider.


Improving Sleep Position

Sleeping in a strained position is one way for neck strain to develop. To limit this occurrence, a person can do a few things, including changing the pillow they use. A pillow should be comfortable and not too hard, soft, thick, or flat. It should align with the natural curve of the head, neck, and cervical spine.


The best sleeping position for the neck is to sleep in a back position, which can also help to reduce neck strain. This is the best way to let the spine rest more fully during the night without any strains to the head and neck. In this position, a person can place a pillow underneath each arm to provide additional support.


Setting Up the Computer Correctly

It's not uncommon for neck strain to develop when laptops or computers are not set up ergonomically. The computer monitor must be at eye level and not way above or below that benchmark. A person sitting comfortably and looking at their computer monitor should have their direct gaze in the top third of the screen.


Having to look lower than this can create health problems and neck strain over time. This occurrence is frequent with those who use laptops because the screens are lower. It could be useful to invest in a separate monitor or to place the laptop on a stand and use a separate mouse and keyboard.


Crouching Over When Reading and Texting

Mobile phones make it easy for the user to get accustomed to crouching over. This can also happen with a range of other gadgets and tools that include tablets and even books. Looking down when reading and texting may only bring about neck stiffness and minor aches in the short-term. However, in the long-term, it can lead to neck strain and injury and necessitate a visit to see the doctor.


Using a headset or earphones can help when making phone calls. One can train themselves to hold their phone upright to prevent stiffness in the neck muscles and other health issues.


Other Prevention Methods

There are several other ways to stop the occurrence of neck pain. Here are some examples:

  • Carrying weights on the shoulders evenly.

  • Staying hydrated.

  • Relieving trigger-point pain and gently stretching the neck often

Neck pain is widespread. It can be caused by sudden injuries from sports or car accidents. It can also develop over time from repeatedly sitting or working in the wrong posture.


Symptoms can include stiffness of neck muscles, muscle spasms, severe pains, weakness of the arms, as well as headaches. There are various ways to treat and care for these conditions and eliminate the symptoms. One can see a health provider to get a recommendation of medication or another method. Information on each one of these care options is widely available at personal injury chiropractors in Columbus.

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