Cervical sprains and strains are common injuries of the neck, resulting in pain, stiffness, muscle spasm or weakness. A cervical sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the neck.
Cervical strains are injuries to the muscles in the neck. Both injuries are caused by stretching or tearing of soft tissue.
A common cause of cervical sprains and strains is whiplash, which typically occurs during motor vehicle accidents. In this type of injury, the head moves back and forth in a very sudden movement (acceleration-deceleration), injuring ligaments or muscles of the neck by stretching them beyond their normal limits. Cervical sprains and strains can also occur from a fall, contact sports, improper lifting, poor posture while sitting at a desk, using a computer, working on a project, driving, or similar activities.
Signs & Symptoms
The primary symptom of cervical sprains and strains is pain that begins immediately after an injury, a number of hours following an injury, or over time following prolonged overuse or misuse of the muscles in the neck and upper back. The pain is usually worse when engaged in activity and improves at rest. Some individuals may develop chronic pain resulting from a cervical sprain or strain. There may be swelling and inflammation, stiffness, and limited range of motion in addition to pain.