Cervical Sprains/Strains

Cervical sprains affect the ligaments in the neck while cervical strains affect the muscles and tendons. The ligaments, tendons, and muscles all act together to support the neck and provide it with a wide range of movement. While these structures allow a great deal of mobility, they can also be injured if the head is bent forward (flexed) or backward (extended) with too much force. These conditions can present with pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty with movement of the head and neck. It is diagnosed by taking a thorough history and performing a detailed physical examination. Sometimes, an imaging study such as an x-ray may be ordered to further assess the cervical spine. Once diagnosed, however, cervical sprains and strains are usually treated conservatively. They can be managed with medications, which can help relieve the pain or relax the muscles, and physical therapy, which stretches and strengthens the muscles of the neck.