Our Physicians

Dr Frey
Dr. Frey
Dr Schmidt
Dr. Schmidt
 
Contact Us for Appointment

/ APPOINTMENTS

Making an Appointment
Phone, Forms, Directions

Locations

spacer
spacer
 
colorado spine logo
 
Telephone: (303) 762-0808
Fax: (303) 762-9292
TollFree: 1-866-971-7940
colorado spine logo
Telephone: (303) 762-0808
Fax: (303) 762-9292
TollFree: 1-866-971-7940
Contact Us for Appointment

/ APPOINTMENTS

Making an Appointment
Phone, Forms, Directions

Denver/Englewood Office

/ ENGLEWOOD

3277 S Lincoln St.
Englewood CO 80113

green slash

Explaining Spinal Disorders: Neck Sprains (Whiplash) and Strains

Neck sprains and strains, such as whiplash are common. Sprains and strains are similar but different soft tissue disorders.

  • Sprain: An injury to a ligament caused by overuse or trauma.
  • Strain: An injury to a tendon or muscle caused by overuse or trauma.

Whiplash is a common type of sprain often referred to a hyperextension and hyperflexion injury. Muscle pain that develops from cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder is an example of a strain. Both sprains and strains can cause severe pain and sometimes are temporarily disabling.

Hyperextension of neck

Hyperextension

Hyperflexion of neck

Hyperflexion

Symptoms

Typical symptoms include:

  • Varying degrees of pain; mild to intense
  • Sharp, dull, throbbing, and/or burning pain
  • Stiffness, difficulty moving the neck or upper body
  • Swelling

In addition to the above, whiplash symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw pain (immediate or delayed)
  • Ringing in the ears

Diagnosis

Our comprehensive diagnostic process includes:

  • Medical history. Your doctor talks to you about your symptoms, their severity, and what treatments you have already tried.

  • Physical examination. You are carefully examined for movement limitations, balance problems, and pain. During the exam, the doctor evaluates loss of extremity reflexes, muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or other signs of a neurological problem.

  • Diagnostic tests. Generally, doctors start with plain x-rays. If necessary, CT scans and MRIs are performed to obtain more detail about your spinal sprain or strain (i.e. rule out vertebral fracture).

Nonoperative Treatment

Many different nonsurgical treatments help relieve neck sprain or strain symptoms. These include:

  • Medications, such as an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and pain, muscle relaxants to calm spasm, and occasionally, narcotic painkillers to alleviate acute pain.
  • Cold/heat therapy, especially during the first 24-48 hours of pain onset.
  • Soft cervical collar or brace*
  • Physical therapy, which may include gentle massage, stretching, therapeutic exercise, or traction to decrease pain and increase function.
  • Alternative therapy (i.e. acupuncture)

*A cervical collar is a short-term treatment to help support tender and painful neck tissues while they heal. A collar can reduce neck and upper back pain by relieving muscle spasm and cervical fatigue.

In conjunction with these treatments, our staff will educate you about healthy posture and proper body mechanics.

Conclusion

Symptoms of a cervical sprain or strain may be similar to other spinal disorders. If pain or symptoms persist or worsen, call our office for an appointment. Our medical staff will provide you with excellent information to help you recover and stay healthy.

 
 

By using this site, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to the terms of our User Agreement . The information provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider.
© 2004-2017 Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute

LastUpdate: 2016-12-20 22:20:45

  • top