General Physicians and Neuromusculoskeletal specialists agree that cervical strain or sprain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems they encounter. The cervical spine, the most mobile part of the spine, is more susceptible to injury than other areas of the spine. The muscle structure and tendons are designed to hold our head upright and give us the mobility we need for everyday tasks.
Injury to the cervical spine is quite painful and can be debilitating until the area is fully healed. I see two distinct types of cervical injuries with my clients: cervical strain and cervical sprain. They’re similar injuries, but they do affect different parts of the neck.
The Basics of Cervical Strain
A strain is caused by damage to the muscle or tendons in the neck. The most common cause of neck strains include trauma to the neck from a car accident or truck accident, too much time in an awkward position, carrying something heavy on one side of your body, or sleeping on a pillow that is too high or too low.
The Basics of Cervical Sprain
A sprain is caused by the tearing of the soft tissues that connect the bones to each other; the ligaments. The most common neck sprain is also known as whiplash. You will likely experience neck pain that worsens with movement. You may also experience dizziness, tinnitus, fatigue, and patchy numbness in the arms or hands.
Symptoms of Cervical Injury
I am not a physician, but as an attorney, I see a lot of clients who suffer from cervical injuries. The symptoms of cervical strain or cervical sprain are difficult to ignore. You may experience the following:
- Pain in the neck
- Decreased range of motion in the head or neck
- Hard or knotted muscles
- Pain when nodding or shaking your head
- Stiffness or pain when looking over your shoulders
- Neck tenderness
- Headaches that start at the base of the skull and radiate forward
Always visit the emergency room following any type of accident that may have impacted your spine. These injuries often show up within the first three days following an accident. Talk to your doctor about the pain you’re experiencing and listen to what they have to say.
You may experience temporary relief from cervical strain or sprain by:
- Applying ice for about 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for a few days
- Take ibuprofen, naproxen, or another pain killer as prescribed by your doctor
- Wear a neck brace or collar, but not long term
- Apply moist heat to help relax the neck muscles after the initial swelling has subsided
Your doctor may prescribe other methods of pain relief based on his or her experience in this type of injury. Always follow the advice of your doctor while you’re healing.
Common Causes of Cervical Strain or Sprain
Many types of accidents can cause cervical strain or sprain. The treatment required depends on the severity of the injury. Causes of neck injuries vary from vehicle accidents to fall accidents, and many more.
Nonfatal Vehicle Accidents
A common acceleration-deceleration injury known as whiplash is one type of cervical strain. Whiplash is very common in nonfatal vehicle accidents and other accidents in which the head and neck are thrust forward and back quickly. Cervical strain can vary in terms of pain from stiffness or neck tenderness to severe pain associated with fracture or dislocation.
Sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and hockey are fast-moving sports that require the player to be in excellent physical shape. Strains and sprains often happen regardless of what great shape the injured party is in. The impact of a football player being tackled while wearing a helmet puts that player at risk for whiplash or other cervical spine injury. The same risks are taken by other sports professionals and amateurs alike.
Too Much Time in an Awkward Position
Sitting in an awkward position can cause neck pain and strain. You may notice pain in your neck while you’re driving or if your job requires you to sit for several hours at the computer. Maintaining proper posture for several hours at a time while driving or working isn’t exactly an easy thing to do. Most people slouch, which creates an awkward curve in your spine and causes muscle strain.
Carrying Something Heavy on One Side
Warehouse jobs and other manual labor that requires heavy lifting can cause muscle strain in a variety of parts of the body. Lifting or carrying something heavy on one side of your body while carrying nothing on the other side can cause neck strain. You could qualify for workers compensation if injury happens on the job.
Trauma to the Head or Neck
Trauma that impacts the head or neck such as a car accident, falling objects, or a fall with an improper landing can cause cervical strain or sprain. Construction site and large department store accidents are very common and may result in whiplash or other neck injury.
Receiving Compensation for Cervical Spine Injuries
The Dixon Injury Firm understands that cervical spine injuries can have a devastating impact on your life. The pain you feel on a daily basis prevents you from participating in your normal daily activities. Your injuries may require several weeks to a few months to fully heal depending on the severity of the injury.
Cervical strain or sprain can happen to anyone at any time. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and allow them to make the proper diagnosis based on your individual symptoms. The insurance company may downplay the injury and indicate that it is just a sprain, it will heal quickly. Your doctor can confirm the presence of whiplash or fractures if they exist.
The Dixon Injury Firm can help you gather the evidence you need to get the compensation you deserve for your cervical spine injury. These injuries can be even more serious than a simple broken bone, so do not let the insurance company tell you otherwise. Get legal back up by calling The Dixon Injury Firm at 314-409-7060.