One thing everyone knows about an injured neck is — it hurts! Whether it’s something minor like sleeping in a bad position or something major like a car accident or sports injury, neck pain can radiate to your head, shoulders, the top of your back, and even into your chest at times.

When you experience a neck injury, you gain an intimate understanding about the saying “a pain in the neck.” We want to help you learn more about these types of injuries, so here are five things you may want to know about neck sprains and strains.

  1. The difference between a strain and a sprain is… – According to the Mayo Clinic, a sprain involves the stretching and/or tearing of the ligaments while a strain involves the stretching and/or tearing of the muscle or tendon. Minor sprains and strains do not require hospitalization, and can easily be treated at home. Major sprains and strains, however, can go as far as requiring surgery to repair them.
  2. A strain, by any other name, is just as painful. – Have you ever been in a car accident and had whiplash as a result of it? If so, you’ve experienced a neck strain. WebMD lists some of the symptoms of neck strain (aka whiplash) as the following: a tightness and tenderness in your neck, limited range of motion, a headache that radiates up from the base of your skull, and pain when you try to move your head either side to side or up and down.
  3. Say Uncle! – Now that you have a neck injury, how do you get the pain to go away? One of the first things you can do to help alleviate some of the soreness and swelling of your injury is to apply a cold compress to your neck. According to Spine-Health, apply that compress for 20-minute increments (20 minutes on followed by 20 minutes off) for the first 24 hours. Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen or Aleve can also help with some of the pain and swelling. After the first 24 hours, applying a hot compress, or having someone gently message your neck, can help stimulate blood flow to the area which can also promote pain relief.
  4. Doctor! Doctor! – If you received your injuries from a car accident or other major trauma, you definitely want to be seen by a physician. Symptoms like excessive sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, and nausea can all indicate something more serious. If your arm gets tingly or numb, or if any of your pain and stiffness lasts more than two days, you will want to see your doctor about these things as well.
  5. I strained my neck doing what?! – There are many ways a person can strain their neck. Though a trauma of some kind can easily do it, there are also less traumatic ways of straining a neck that you may not be aware of. If you hunch over a computer for extended periods of time, hold your phone in the crook of your neck too much, or sit in a not-so-supportive chair for hours at a time, you can possibly end up straining your neck.

Atlanta Brain and Spine Care describes the neck as an “intricate system of soft tissues.” The cervical spine has seven vertebrae located in it, making it the most mobile section of spine a person has. Given that it has so much soft tissue and so many vertebrae in such a small area, the chances of injury are increased.

If you have received a neck injury as a result of an accident or a work-related issue, please feel free to contact us. We will happily review your case for free and discuss our evaluation with you.