Your cervical spine, or neck, is made up of seven bones stacked on top of each other with a shock-absorbing disc between each level. Your neck is relatively flexible so it relies on muscles and ligaments for support. “Sprains” and “strains” are the result of these tissues being stretched too hard or too far, much like a rope that frays when it is stretched beyond its normal capacity. The term, “sprain” means that the tough, durable ligaments that hold your bones together have been damaged, while “strain” means that your muscles or tendons that move your neck have been partially torn. 

Auto accidents and sports injuries are the leading causes of neck sprains and strains. Other less traumatic activities like reaching, pushing, pulling, moving heavy objects and falls can also trigger these problems. Most commonly, sprains and strains are not the result of any single event but rather from repeated overloading. Tendons and ligaments generally manage small isolated stressors quite well, but repetitive challenges lead to injury in much the same way that constantly bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Examples of these less acute types of cervical sprain/strain injuries include bad posture, poor workstations, repetitive movements, prolonged overhead activity, sedentary lifestyles, improper sleep positions, poor bra support and obesity. 

Symptoms from a sprain/strain may begin abruptly but more commonly develop gradually. Complaints often include dull neck pain that becomes sharper when you move your head. Rest may relieve your symptoms but often leads to stiffness. The pain is generally centered in the back of your neck but can spread to your shoulders or between your shoulder blades. Tension headaches commonly accompany neck injuries. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any signs of a more serious injury, including a severe or “different” headache, loss of consciousness, confusion or “fogginess”, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, change in vision, nausea or vomiting, numbness or tingling in your arms or face, weakness or clumsiness in your arms and hands, decreased bowel or bladder control or fever.

Sprain/strain injuries cause your normal healthy elastic tissue to be replaced with less elastic “scar tissue”. This process can lead to ongoing pain and even arthritis. Seeking early and appropriate treatment, like the type provided in our office, is critical. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may need to limit your activity for awhile- especially movements or activities that cause pain. Avoid heavy lifting and take frequent breaks from prolonged activity, particularly overhead activity. Following acute injuries, you can apply ice for 10-15 minutes each hour. Heat may be helpful after several days or for more chronic types of pain. Ask your doctor for specific ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report partial relief from sports-creams.


Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.

Joint Manipulation

Joint Manipulation

Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.

 

Therapy Modalities

Therapy Modalities

We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.

 

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release

Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.

 

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic Exercise

Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.

 

 

 

After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.

Pillow Selection

Sleep Posture

To avoid neck and upper back pain from improper neck support:


  • Select a pillow that will hold your head in a neutral position while sleeping on your side or back.
  • Avoid excessively thick or multiple pillows.
  • Choose a fiberfill or feather/down pillow as these are usually better than foam.
  • Consider a commercially available pillow that promotes good neck posture.
 

Workstation Ergonomics

Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways:

  • Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
  • 
Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level.
  • Use a lumber roll for lower back support.
  • Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet).
  • Take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion.
  • Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.
 

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Glucosamine

Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate are usually formulated together. The combination may help arthritis sufferers.


  • Select a pillow that will hold your head in a neutral position while sleeping on your side or back.
  • Take 1500mg of Glucosamine & 1200 mg of Chondroitin daily 
  • After 8 weeks decrease your daily intake to 750 mg/day
 
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