What is a Cervical Strain?
Cervical strain, commonly known as neck strain, is an injury that occurs when the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck are stretched or torn. This stretching or tearing can result in pain, stiffness, tenderness, and limited range of motion in the neck. Since cervical strain causes varying levels of discomfort, it can be beneficial to work with a pain management doctor to develop a treatment plan that can help reduce pain and improve function while the body heals. Our goal is to improve every patient’s quality of life as safely and efficiently as possible.
What causes cervical strain?
Cervical strain is a musculoskeletal condition characterized by damage or injury to the muscles and/or tendons of the neck. It is typically caused by sudden or excessive movements of the head and neck, such as whiplash injuries from vehicle accidents, falls, or sports-related trauma. The condition may also result from prolonged poor posture, repetitive strain, or carrying heavy objects on the shoulders.
What are the symptoms of cervical strain?
The most common symptoms of cervical strain include pain, stiffness, tenderness, and limited range of motion in the neck. In some cases, individuals may experience headaches, dizziness, and/or numbness or tingling sensations in the arms or hands.
How is cervical strain diagnosed?
A pain management doctor will inquire about the patient’s medical history and previous neck injuries, as well as the location, duration, intensity, and associated symptoms of the pain. After reviewing the patient’s history, a physical examination of the neck and shoulder area will be conducted, searching for signs of tenderness, restricted range of motion, muscle weakness, or nerve damage. Imaging tests, including X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, may also be ordered to rule out other potential causes of neck pain.
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What are the treatment options for cervical strain?
Various treatment options are available for cervical strain, and a pain management doctor can help identify which may work best for each unique situation. Some treatment options include rest, ice and heat therapy, physical therapy, massage therapy, and injections. Rest and ice/heat therapy can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, while physical therapy and massage therapy can improve the range of motion in the neck, stretch and strengthen the muscles, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation.
In severe cases of cervical strain where other treatments have been unsuccessful, a pain management doctor may recommend specific injections. Three common types of injections used for cervical strain are trigger point injections, epidural steroid injections, and facet joint injections.
Trigger point injections involve the direct injection of a local anesthetic and/or corticosteroid into the trigger points or knots in the muscles of the neck to reduce pain and muscle tension. Epidural steroid injections involve the injection of a corticosteroid and anesthetic medication into the epidural space around the spinal cord to reduce inflammation and pain in the cervical area. Facet joint injections involve the injection of a corticosteroid and anesthetic medication into the facet joints to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with cervical strain.
How long does it take to recover from cervical strain?
The recovery time for cervical strain depends on the severity of the condition and the individual’s overall health. In general, most people recover within a few weeks to several months with proper treatment and rest. Pain management doctors can help individuals manage their pain during the recovery process, which can improve overall outcomes and expedite healing.
How can cervical strain be prevented?
Cervical strain can be prevented by maintaining good posture, avoiding sudden or excessive movements of the head and neck, using proper lifting techniques, and staying physically active to improve neck strength and flexibility. Regular exercise, stretching, and maintaining good form and posture can help reduce the risk of developing cervical strain.
Cervical strain is a common injury caused by straining or tearing of the muscles in the neck. Only a doctor will be able to diagnose if pain, stiffness, tenderness, and limited range of motion in the neck are due to cervical strain or other causes. If you’re experiencing issues with cervical strain, a pain management doctor can help identify the best treatment options, which can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Recovery time for cervical pain varies from person to person and working with a pain management doctor can help improve the probability of recovery and increase comfort along the way.
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