Let’s Start Here:
In this blog, we are going to explore what the research is saying about the best way to treat cervical sprain/strains. We are going to talk about the bottom line facts about this common injury that is treated by chiropractors across the globe. We will then get into why it matters that you know this information. Then finally we will discuss the best next steps to take when considering treatment for your neck with a chiropractor. As your local Overland Park Ks, chiropractor Dr. Ryan and Impact Health and Performance team see it as our job to make sure you have all the information you need to make the right choice for care. Let’s dive in!
The Bottom Line is the Neck is a Very Moble Section of the Body and Easy Injured:
The cervical spine, like the shoulder, is afforded a relatively large range of motion at the expense of bony stability. Excessive stress placed on the supporting soft tissue "envelope" can lead to ligamentous "sprains" and muscular "strains", which frequently co-exist because of a single insult.
Ligaments serve as the primary "static" stabilizers and act to limit the end range of motion. Forces causing movement beyond the normal range of motion can damage these ligaments
Muscles act as a "dynamic" stabilizer, protecting the cervical spine throughout its normal range of motion. Strains often result from an eccentric muscular contraction in response to an unexpected external force. Stressors that cause sustained or overwhelming muscular contraction can damage the muscles.
Why Does This Matter? Because it is common!
Cervical sprain/strain injuries are common. While it is difficult to estimate specifics for this diagnosis, the lifetime prevalence of neck pain has been estimated at 70%. Over one million US adults suffer cervical sprain/strain from whiplash injury alone each year.
- Symptoms of sprain/strain type injuries may begin abruptly but more commonly develop gradually in the hours or days following an insult.
- Complaints often include constant dull neck pain that intensifies or becomes sharp with movement.
- Rest may relieve acute symptoms but often leads to inactivity-stiffness.
Controlling pain and inflammation are the initial goals of treatment. Ice, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and NSAIDs can assist this process. In the absence of documented instability, immobilization (i.e neck braces) leads to de-conditioning/atrophy and is rarely indicated. Gentle range of motion exercises and isometric strengthening should be implemented to tolerance in the acute phase of healing.
The second goal of treatment is the restoration of normal mobility and joint function. Myofascial release and stretching exercises may be needed. Spinal manipulation is a valuable tool for the restoration of normal joint mechanics in sprain/strain injuries.
If you or someone you know is struggling with neck pain, reach out to us today. Our practice will provide you with a thorough evaluation to determine the source of your problem and the best unique care plan designed specifically to help you find relief.
Childs JD. Neck pain: clinical practice guidelines linked to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2008 Sep;38(9):A1-34.