The Southeastern Spine Institute

How Common Are Neck Injuries?

Neck injuries are very common and can happen suddenly or gradually. The damage done to this vulnerable area may be mild or severe. If you have neck pain from trauma, it may involve damage to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, discs or vertebrae.

If you’ve experienced a neck injury, it can be hard to focus on day-to-day tasks. You’re likely experiencing pain and a decreased ability to move your head and neck. And it’s not always clear as to the source of the discomfort. The doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute correctly diagnose the cause of your neck pain and recommend the best course of treatment.

What Are Some Symptoms of Neck Injuries?

The symptoms you experience from an injury to your neck vary, depending on the severity of the injury and the part of the neck that you injured. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • Pain that’s concentrated in the neck or radiating to your shoulder or arm
  • Neck stiffness
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Neck tenderness
  • Numbness or tingling running down your arms, legs or body
  • A reduced range of motion

A severe neck injury can cause serious or life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or inability to move. If a ruptured disc is pressing on your spinal cord, you may experience dizziness, headaches or nausea.

What Can Cause a Neck Injury?

One of the most common causes of a neck injury is whiplash, which may be caused by having your head suddenly jerked backward and then forward, which strains the soft tissues of your neck. Whiplash is frequently caused by being in an auto accident, where your vehicle is hit from behind. Other common causes of neck injuries include:

  • Tripping and falling
  • Being assaulted with a blow to the back or top of your head
  • Excessive pressure applied to your neck

Sports-related injuries to the neck are another common source of neck injuries. They can happen while participating in many different sports, with the highest risks in:

  • Football
  • Diving
  • Gymnastics
  • Cheerleading
  • Cycling

What Are Treatment Options for Neck Pain and Injuries?

Treating an injured neck depends on the type of injury you have and how serious it is. Minor injuries may be treated with rest, over-the-counter pain medication and alternating ice and heat every few hours. Other treatment options may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Injections of corticosteroids
  • Massage

A severe blow to the head can cause serious injuries such as a dislocation or broken neck. If you suffer a severe neck injury, try not to move until trained medical professionals arrive. The spine needs to be stabilized in this type of injury to prevent further damage. Some treatment options for a broken neck include traction or a cervical collar.

When Should I Worry About a Neck Injury?

While some injuries can heal on their own at home, there are times when you should consult a doctor. If you treat a neck injury at home, call your doctor if you experience:

  • Symptoms that intensify or don’t improve
  • Pain that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Increased numbness or weakness in one or both arms

Don’t ignore persistent pain or worsening symptoms. They can lead to more serious problems that may be permanent. Contact the experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute for diagnosis and treatment of neck injuries or for more information about preventing injuries to your neck or back.