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Cervical Sprain: Symptoms, Grades, and Treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Whiplash, also popularly known as whiplash or whiplash in the neck, is one of the most common ailments in people with accidents or sudden movements involving the head and neck. This injury is caused by excess tension in the cervical area when performing an action that requires flexibility and speed to which the body cannot respond.

Usually, this condition is very annoying and painful. Consequently, the vital thing for the person suffering from it is to correct it as soon as possible. That is why at FastlyHealwe explain what cervical sprain is: symptoms, grades, and treatment.

Cervical sprain: definition and causes

A sprain is sudden or forced twisting or stretching some muscle tissue, leaving irritation and even a rupture of the ligament and affected muscle fibers. It is a frequent injury in sports and high-speed and impact exercises, as well as in some forced labor, or in the face of the continuous or sudden adoption of anti-ergonomic postures or what is the same, that does not agree with the correct alignment of the body.

When we talk about cervical sprain, it occurs specifically in the muscles and ligaments located around the cervical segment of our spine, made up of 7 vertebrae.

The best known and most frequent cause is traffic accidents, when our car is impacted, causing the sudden movement of ‘whiplash,’ generally back and forth, although it can be present in collisions on the side of the vehicle, which are less frequent. In addition to these accidents, there are several additional external events or causes :

  • Prolonged adoption of wrong postures, which damage the muscles and tendons in the area.
  • In this case, you are sleeping in the wrong position, positions that stretch the neck too much, either lying on your side or with complex or huge pillows.
  • Make great efforts that strain the neck or make it adopt a terrible posture, even for a brief moment.
  • Other accidents. For example: receiving a ball or blow to the headstrong and surprising enough to produce a whipping movement in the same way; or poor move when performing an exercise or stretching. In sports such as rugby, football, and some martial arts, the risk of this injury increases.

Apart from everything that we have just mentioned, internal factors such as chronic stress must be taken into account, which will hardly produce a sprain as such but can cause tension to accumulate in the area and make the person more likely to suffer from a sprain to the neck or other parts of the body.

Symptoms of a cervical sprain

A sprain can manifest itself through the following symptoms :

  • Neck pain, which can manifest as heaviness, stiffness, or pain when trying to move the neck in any direction or specific directions
  • Headache (headache)
  • Extension of pain to shoulders and arms: sometimes, the sprain is accompanied by contractures of nearby muscle groups
  • Tingling in the arms and hands: in this case, it must be carefully reviewed with an x-ray to ensure that other systems, such as the nervous system, are not affected or threatened.
  • Vertigo
  • Ringing in the ears

It is important to note that in some circumstances, after a cervical sprain, whiplash pain does not appear immediately but begins to appear gradually during the rest of the day or after sleeping.

Cervical sprain: degrees

The most accepted classification of cervical sprain is the following:

  • Grade 0: asymptomatic.
  • Grade 1 (I): has pain and muscle contracture (symptoms) but no physical signs.
  • Grade 2 (II): moderate pain, with a muscle contracture or injury sufficient to limit movement. The normal curvature of the neck (lordosis) may be slightly reduced due to the muscle tension present.
  • Grade 3 (III): the pain and muscle contracture is already severe, disabling the mobility of the neck entirely or almost completely. In an X-ray, it can be seen the loss of not only the natural curvature of the neck but its inversion (curved forward). The use of the collar is already mandatory.
  • Grade 4 (IV): bone fractures and dislocations (dislocations) are involved here, which can seriously compromise the patient with severe consequences, such as paralysis. It generally requires emergency surgical intervention.

Cervical sprain: treatment

Depending on the timing and severity of the injury, there are the following cervical sprain treatments :

  • Ice or cold compress: This is especially important to apply during the first 24 hours of the accident, intermittently, every 20 minutes. It is contraindicated that the temperature that makes contact with the skin is not at the freezing point; therefore, cover the ice sufficiently or ask the affected person if the compress is icy.
  • Hot damp cloth: to relieve contractures and promote distension. At intervals similar to a cold application, but apply after the first 24 hours.
  • Massages: done by a physiotherapist or specialist to help the neck relax.
  • Collar: it is placed from Grade II for the time determined by the specialist. It is with the idea of ​​keeping the neck and head in the most physiologically correct posture and avoiding the aggravation of the injury.
  • Surgery: as we have already mentioned, being in the presence of a grade IV sprain, surgical intervention is necessary to avoid moderate to severe damage that may remain in the patient.

We also suggest that you take care of your posture both in movement and activities and in resting situations. Practices like Pilates and yoga teach correct form and help align and strengthen the area, so it stays tight.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cervical sprain: symptoms, degrees and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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