The cervical vertebrae of the spine consist of seven bones that are connected to each other by strong fibrous tissues such as the ligaments, tendons and muscles. A sprain occurs when one of these tissues are stretched beyond its limit. This can happen during a sudden movement such as a car accident, causing the neck to bend to the extreme.
The neck is an extremely smart structure that is designed to house and protect our backbone – the spinal cord. The spinal cord provides support to our head and consists of millions of nerves that acts as signals and transmitters to relay messages from our brain to the rest of our body. However, it is also one of the weakest component of our body and the extreme flexibility that allows you to bend and touch your toes also leaves it vulnerable to impact.
There are several possible causes for a neck sprain:
- Spending too much time in an awkward position such as hunching when using a computer for long periods
- Sleeping in an awkward position without adequate support from a proper pillow
- Sudden forceful impact such as during a car accident, causing whiplash
- Working for long periods in the same position such as painting a ceiling for hours
Our ligaments, tendons and muscles are designed to heal itself in a short time if it is minor.
- Applying a cold pack will help to reduce inflammation, allowing the body time to heal. Ice pack should be applied every hour for the first 24 hours as this is the acute stage
- Applying a heat pack will enhance blood circulation, allowing efficient blood exchange. Old blood containing dead cells will be drained off while new blood carrying large amounts of nutrients and oxygen will help to speed up the healing process
- Anti-inflammatory medication will help to bring down the swelling and provide pain relief
- Massaging the neck area will help to dissipate any blood clots that are formed and promote blood circulation
- Hydrotherapy is a novel treatment method that uses salt to release muscle sprains. Magnesium which is found in the salt will reduce the rate of calcium binding following a muscle contracting
- Acupuncture is a TCM technique stimulates specific acupuncture points to manipulate the flow of energy and provide restoration of joint mobility to the neck
Neck sprains are usually causes by activities that requires long periods of prolonged movement of the neck.