5 Steps to Treat a Neck Injury After an Accident

treat a neck injury

Feeling a lingering pain in your neck? You’re not the only one. In fact, there were an estimated 14,390 neck fractures treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in a single year. Neck pain can impact your comfort, range of motion, and quality of life. Worried you’ve sustained a neck injury? Keep reading to discover the five steps to treat a neck injury.

With these tips, you can put an end to your pain and get back to your life!

Common Symptoms of Neck Sprains

People who enjoy extreme sports are at a higher risk for severe neck and head injuries. In fact, of the 4 million injuries reported for extreme sports participants, 11.3 percent were head or neck injuries. Of these, 83% were head injuries and 17% neck injuries.

Neck and back sprains often occur as a result of trauma. For example, a whiplash incident during a car accident can cause unexpected movement to the spine. A sprain differs from a strain because it affects ligaments, which hold bones together at the joints.

Strains, on the other hand, impact muscles in the neck. 

You can experience a neck sprain if your joints are forced beyond their usual limits. While this often occurs during a car accident, you could also develop a sprain slowly by sitting in front of your computer. 

You might experience a few recurring symptoms as a result of your neck sprain, including:

  • Headaches
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Swelling in the neck or shoulders
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the arms
  • Muscle spasms in the upper shoulders

You might not experience these symptoms until 48 hours after the incident. For example, you might notice delayed onset pain around your neck. Muscle spasms around the upper shoulders can accompany your neck sprain as well. 

Some people also experience radiculopathy. You’ll notice numbness or tingling in your arms. This occurs when a spinal nerve root becomes irritated.

Other symptoms can include a sore throat, fatigue, irritability, or trouble sleeping. 

5 Steps for Treating a Neck Injury

Once you recognize your neck pain, it’s important to treat the problem.

You can start with over-the-counter pain medication, including anti-inflammatories. These can include ibuprofen or naproxen, which will reduce your inflammation and pain. 

You might also consider ice and/or heat therapy. Try to apply ice to your neck within the first 48 hours of your injury. This will help reduce swelling and the associated pain.

After 48 hours, you can decide between heat or ice, depending on your personal preference. 

Heat therapy will help facilitate blood circulation. As your blood flows, it will bring healing nutrients to your damaged tissues. Make sure to remove the ice or heat for 10 to 20 minutes between treatments.

Meanwhile, you should let your neck rest. Try to avoid strenuous activities for a few days after the incident. This can give your body a couple of days to heal and feel better.

However, these treatment options are only for the immediate period following your accident. If your neck pain persists, you’ll need to consider the underlying problem. Here are a few ways you can treat a neck injury if your pain continues.

1. Physical Therapy

In order to properly treat a neck injury, you’ll likely need to see a medical professional. A physical therapist can design a custom physical therapy program for you. This program should target the muscles in your neck that need to become stronger.

The physical therapy will improve your flexibility as well. 

Most physical therapy programs begin with a professional’s instruction on various exercises and stretches. As you make progress in the program, you can continue these exercises at home on your own. 

2. Manual Manipulation

In addition to physical therapy, you can also use manual or chiropractic manipulation to treat a neck injury.

A trained medical professional can make manual adjustments to your cervical spine. This includes the lower region of the spine and the neck. By realigning your joints, the therapist can improve your neck’s range of motion.

This, in turn, can reduce your swelling, inflammation, and pain. 

3. Massage Therapy

Some chiropractors also offer massage therapy in addition to your manual manipulation treatment. Scheduling a massage before your chiropractic manipulation will loosen and relax your muscles.

When your muscles are relaxed, it can increase blood flow to your damaged tissues. In addition to sending healing nutrients to your tissues, this will help relieve your lingering pain. 

There are different massages you can choose from that help treat neck pain. These include Swedish massage, which focuses on steady strokes in the direction of blood flow toward your heart. Swedish massages promote relaxation throughout your entire body as well.

The other common type of massage for a neck strain is a deep tissue massage.

These massages use deeper strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. While Swedish massages focus on blood flow, deep tissue massages focus on areas where you’re experiencing chronic pain.

4. Acupuncture

You can also use acupuncture to treat a neck injury.

Acupuncture relies on the theory that unbalanced energy flows, or blockages, can contribute to your neck pain. Strategically placing thin needles in your body can help balance your energy flow. As a result, the needles should reduce your neck pain. 

According to acupuncture, there are over 2,000 points on the human body connected through 20 pathways. These pathways conduct vital energy (also known as life force or qi) throughout the body. According to acupuncture, the proper flow of qi is necessary for you to maintain your health.

5. Prescription Medications

Although it’s rare, there are some cases of neck strain that require prescription medication for relief. 

Speak with a medical professional to determine your best course of action for treatment. Here are a few types of pain medications you might need:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Acetaminophen
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Opioids
  • Oral steroids

However, certain medications carry risks and side effects. Speak to your doctor to determine the best medication for your pain. 

Look Forward to Health & Happiness: 5 Steps to Treat a Neck Injury

Don’t stay in pain. Now that you know how to treat a neck injury, contact your doctor.

Searching for an experienced neck injury physician? Call us at 1-800-897-8440 to find a doctor in your area today!

 

Book An Appointment

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY