Sprains and strains are injuries to ligaments, muscles or tendons. A sprain is a simple stretch or rupture of a ligament. Sprains can be a simple stretch of a muscle or tendon, or it can be partial or complete tear in a muscle or tendon joint.
Neck sprain is a stretched tendon or muscle in the neck. Neck fractures can occur without obvious injury but can sometimes be caused by a sudden impact with something. The effect can force the neck to expand faster than its normal range, and then back to force.
Sometimes the words for neck strain and neck sprain are used interchangeably. Although a sprain is a ligament injury, the symptoms of pain and stiffness seen in sprain and strain are usually similar and resolved on their own before a formal diagnosis is made.
Two long neck muscles that are at an increased risk for strain are:
Levator scapulae; These muscles travel down the side of the neck, from the top of the cervical spine to the scapula. The levator scapulae play an important role in flexing and rotating the neck to the side, and these movements can be prevented if the muscles are strained.
Trapezius; These kite-shaped muscles start at the base of the skull and go over halfway down the spine, and also outward to the shoulders. The upper trapezius muscles help facilitate many movements, including head tilts and neck extension.
Some neck muscles can also be strained, and it is possible for more than one neck muscle to be painful at the same time.
How neck sprains and strains occur
Only 7 small vertebrae with a complex system of soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) support the head and enable it to move in a variety of ways. Neck or cervical spine is the most moving part of the spine, but this mobility also makes it easier for trauma and injury.
Sprains and strains are soft tissue injuries. The load affects the muscles and tendons, while the sprains affect the ligaments. While these soft tissues provide strengthening to the cervical vertebrae, they can be stressed and forced to the point of injury. Excessive folding activities (forward bending) and extension (backward bending), especially when combined with poor posture and movement mechanics, can lead to injury.
If you develop whiplash, look for signs of a nerve injury or a broken nerve, including loss of consciousness, numbness, loss of coordination, dizziness, and weakness of the hands or arms.
Refractory pain is a condition in which a wound in one part of the body causes nerve pain in a distant part of the body. It is another common sign of nerve injury.
Loss of bladder control often occurs with spinal cord injury. Neck stiffness which is accompanied by pain in the lower back as well as difficulty breathing and swallowing are also symptoms of a serious injury.
Who at risk of getting neck strains?
One of the most common causes of neck injury is a “whiplash type” of the same injury as seen in people who have been left behind in car accidents. However, in sports, whiplash occurs when the head is pushed forward and then back either from contact with an opponent or to the ground.
This type of injury can be seen in athletes in a number of sports including soccer, basketball, wrestling, and soccer. Because the head is used as a sports tool in football, these athletes are at greater risk of neck problems.
Symptoms of torn ligament in neck
If the spinal cord is compressed, any number of activities involved in or below the level of stress may be affected. Usually the problems created are two sides, that is, the whole body. Some of the signs and symptoms of spinal stenosis in the neck may include one or more of the following:
- Numbness or tingling; Pin-and-needle pins or limited sensory ability may occur in one or more parts of the body, such as the arms or legs.
- Pain; If there is pain, it can range from anywhere from the neck down to severe or burning pain. For some people, bending the head forward may cause lightning-like shooting pain in the hands and feet.
- Stiff neck; Moving the neck in one or more directions can be difficult. Neck stiffness due to stress is caused by swelling or muscle stretching to protect against further injuries.
- Pain localized to the neck region; Neck problems are usually felt in the back of the neck, or more in the neck and in part in the immediate area, such as the back of the head, upper back or shoulder.
- Weakness or reduced coordination; A few examples include changes in how a person walks or reduced good motor skills in the hands.
- Pain that worsens with movement; The neck may have no or dull pain at rest, but then have a fire-up of intense pain with certain movements or activities.
Even if you do not have these bad symptoms, always see a doctor after a neck injury. You need accurate diagnosis to make sure your neck is stable and your spinal cord is not injured. Seeking medical attention early provides a good chance of a successful recovery from a neck injury.
Causes of torn ligament in neck
Neck problems are caused by a neck injury. Such injuries are often caused by indirect trauma when the head is thrown back or forward, known as whiplash. Injuries caused by circulation and compression can also lead to neck problems and soft tissue injury.
Perform new activities; Putting any muscle through a new type of activity that is somewhat difficult makes it easier to stretch, as well as the neck. For example, athletes are more prone to muscle problems at the beginning of the training season.
Poor posture or holding an awkward position; The muscles of the neck, tendons, and other soft tissues can be straightened when the head is held too far forward or bent at an angle for too long.
Collision or fall; A sudden impact can push the head and cervical spine moving too fast for the muscles, which can lead to whiplash or other types of neck injuries. Some examples include car accidents, bicycle accidents, or sports injuries, such as in soccer.
Repeated motion; Even with the movements and loads that the neck muscles can handle, doing more repetitions can eventually strain the muscles.
Lifting something very heavy; It is possible for the neck to be overworked and stressed when lifting something that requires a lot of work on the muscles.
Generally, neck problems or sprains are caused by a neck injury. Neck injuries can occur as a result of a car accident, a direct blow that causes your head to hit back or forward or from when a force falls on the head.
Physical examination will determine your posture, ability to move, and the position of your head and chin. The doctor will examine the blood vessels in your neck and may listen to them with a stethoscope.
- The rotation motion of your neck
- Muscle strength in your nick
- Your reflexes
- Whether you can detect emotions or not
Imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography scans, or magnetic resonance imaging may be used, but most people suspected of having a neck injury do not need these tests. MRI is a painless, invasive test that produces very clear images, or images of the human body without the use of X-rays. MRI uses large magnets, radio waves, and computers to transmit these images.
CT scans are an X-ray procedure that combines multiple X-ray images with the help of a computer to form body parts. Your doctor will also check your posture and may also check blood vessels in your neck to see if there are any signs of a vascular injury. Imaging tests can be used to help diagnose or determine the severity of a wound.
Preventing neck strain
Athletes involved in contact sports should regularly exercise on the neck-strengthening muscles. The strongest muscles are able to withstand great force without injury.
Resistance exercises should be performed to strengthen all neck movements including bending, lengthening, rotating, and bending sideways. This can be achieved by manual resistance provided by the athlete or by a piece of programmed device.
Athletes in contact sports or in sports where a lot of stress is put on the neck should maintain a strength training program throughout the year to ensure that the muscles are as strong as possible when the athlete needs to compete. This type of strength training program can go a long way to prevent neck muscle problems in contact sports.
Caution to proper mechanics is another key to preventing neck muscle injuries. Ensuring that athletes are taught not to lead with their heads in contact sports is one way to reduce head and neck injuries.
Treatment of torn ligament in neck
All the pieces or problems, no matter where they are in the body, are treated in the same way. Neck injuries, like other bruises, usually heal gradually, given the right amount of time and treatment.
You may need to wear a soft collar around your neck to support the head and reduce pressure on the arteries so that they have time to recover. This treatment should not start, however, without the supervision of your doctor. They include:
1. Wearing a cervical collar
To keep your neck firm and reduce pressure on the ligament, you may be given a soft cervical collar to wear for several days. It should be used for severe neck problems or if you feel that your head will “collapse.” Prolonged use of cervical collar is not recommended as it may cause your neck muscles to weaken and increase the likelihood of a neck strain injury.
2. Ice or heat therapy
It is recommended to apply ice within the first 48 hours of the wound to help reduce swelling. After 48 hours, heat or ice can be used, depending on the patient’s preferences. Heat can help facilitate blood circulation and bring healing properties to damaged tissues. A layer should be placed between the skin and a hot / cold source to prevent skin damage, and use should be kept for 10 to 20 minutes with intermittent rest periods.
Relaxation of the neck muscles is the most important part of treatment in the early healing process. This can be done using a soft collar. The soft collar is designed so that the chin can relax in front of the collar to allow the muscles around the neck to relax.
4. Physical therapy
A physiotherapist, physicist, or other therapist may design a physiotherapy program that focuses on the neck muscles and elsewhere that need to be stronger and more flexible.
Typically, a physical therapy program begins with instructions on how to exercise and stretch. After gradually performing the process for a few weeks or months, the patient continues with the program alone at home.
5. Sleep well
Finding the right pillow, mattress and sleeping position can reduce the risk of waking up and neck pain. However, everyone is different, and it can take a test-and-error before solving what works best. For example, sleeping on the stomach causes more stress on the cervical spine, but not everyone agrees if sleeping on the side or back is better. Also, some people prefer a cervical pillow, but others may find more comfort with other pillows.
6. Taking a painkiller
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil, Aleve, or Tylenol can reduce pain and reduce inflammation. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, reduces inflammation, which can reduce pain. Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, may also be an option.
7. Massage therapy
Massage can relax and relax muscles, as well as increase blood flow to damaged tissues, which can provide some relief. Some medical professionals provide massage therapy in conjunction with manual manipulation. It should be noted that even if the tension of the neck muscles is painful during excessive movement, complete rest of the bed or neck strap is usually not recommended as this can result in weak neck muscles and a long recovery period.