by Amy Scholten, MPH
A neck sprain is the stretching and/or tearing of neck ligaments. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. In mild sprains, the ligaments are stretched too far. Severe sprains will have partial tears in the ligaments.
A neck sprain results from sudden movement. The movement causes the neck to go too far forward or back.
Risk Factors TOP
Incidents that increase your chance of neck sprain include:
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you injured your neck. Your neck will be examined. Your doctor will check the stability of your neck and the severity of the injury. Other sources of neck pain may need to be ruled out before your doctor can confirm a neck sprain.
Tests may be done to rule out other conditions that cause neck pain. These can include dislocations, spinal fractures, arthritis, and cervical disc disease. Your doctor may need pictures of your neck and spine. These pictures can be taken by:
Treatment may include:
In most cases, you should continue to move your neck. Go about your normal activities as much as you can tolerate.
Your doctor may recommend:
Ice and Heat
To help reduce pain:
Physical therapy may be recommended. Therapy appointments may include:
To reduce your risk of neck sprain:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Physical Therapy Canada
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Neck sprain. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00410. Updated August 2007. Accessed July 17, 2009.
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1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/27/2012