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Neck Injury – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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Neck injury involves the cervical spine in the form of trauma, sprain and strain. It can happen to anyone and even an infant can suffer from neck injury. Neck injury is a common occurrence and neck sprains and neck strains are the most common form of neck injury anyone can experience.


A lot of organs and tissues are consisted in the neck such as the spinal cord, esophagus, invertebral discs, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. The neck is located in an unprotected area and is relatively exposed which makes it potentially at high risk for injury in any form. Injury in the neck may be mild to severe in which it may cause minor discomfort, total paralysis and even death.

The lower neck and upper neck gives support to the head and in these areas is where head movement is allowed. These areas are the common site for neck injury. There are different kinds of neck injury which may involve the soft tissue and affect or damage one or more part of the nervous system.

  • Crick in the neck – a pain usually felt in the morning and upon rising from bed which is due to a wrong sleeping position.
  • Neck Strain – a neck injury affecting the muscles that allow movement
  • Neck Sprain – involves injury in the ligaments which may be caused by repetitive movement of neck joint and may be caused by accidental fall.
  • Whiplash – occur when a head is thrown out in hyperextension then forward which commonly happen in car accident and sports injuries.
  • Herniated Disc – it involves the nucleus pulposis which is pushed outside the disc where the substance causes pain when it gets in contact with the nerve root.
  • Stingers and Burners – most common in contact sport athletes particularly football players where the head is abruptly tilted or when the shoulder and head are forced on opposite direction which cause temporary injuries to the brachial plexus. This injury gives a burning and stinging sensation.
  • Neck Fracture – a break or discontinuity in the cervical bone often caused by trauma or degenerative condition of the spine.
  • Cervical Dislocation – spinal instability as a result of neck bone moving out of its normal position which may be due to injury and degenerative condition disrupting ligaments responsible for holding the bone in its position.
  • Spinal Cord Injury – a result of fracture and other neck injury causing spinal cord damages which is life-threatening or may cause life-long disability.

Neck Injury Symptoms

Symptom of neck injury varies and depends on the severity in type of injury incurred. The symptom can manifest immediately or may progress and increase over time and symptoms include:

  • Pain that may radiate from the neck to the shoulders or arms
  • Dizziness
  • Range of motion is limited
  • Perceived pain in every movement or may worsen with every movement
  • Sore throat
  • Disturbed sleep due to pain
  • Fatigue from lack of sleep
  • Bruised neck
  • Persisting headache
  • Bleeding in the neck area

There are symptoms of neck injury that requires immediate medical attention as they are life-threatening and such symptoms are:

  • Unresponsiveness or change in level of consciousness
  • Profuse bleeding
  • Inability to move a limb or any body part
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Deformity of the head or neck
  • Clammy skin
  • Severe headache

Neck Injury Causes

Neck injury commonly happens to everybody and even active and healthy individual can also suffer from it and this may be due to a variety of causes such as:

  • Fall from a height
  • Awkward position in sleep
  • Vehicular accident
  • Degenerative disease condition or any other serious health condition
  • Contact sports activities
  • Significant injury of another body part
  • Physical and emotional stress
  • Improper posture
  • Repetitive trauma
  • Improper body mechanics

Neck Injury Treatment

Majority of neck injury can be treated conservatively although a variety of treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury.

Neck sprains and strains can be treated or can be alleviated with the following:

  • Application of cold pack or hot pack
  • Massage therapy
  • Pain reliever and muscle relaxant
  • Short term use of neck collar

Treating fractured neck immediately start with immobilizing the patient by way of spinal immobilization to prevent further damage and stabilize fracture. Treatments are:

  • Use of rigid collar or brace
  • Use of spinal immobilization in long term
  • Surgical treatment to fix and restore fracture

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