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- Car accidents (known as whiplash)
- Assaults with a blow to the head
- Sporting events that include full contact
- Strain of the upper back or shoulder
- Neck pain, especially in the back of the neck, that gets worse with movement
- Shoulder pain and muscle spasms
- Tingling sensations or weakness in the arms
- Headache, especially in the back of the head
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
Stiffness and difficulty moving the head:
- Side to side
- Up and down
- In a circular motion
- Over-the-counter pain medicine (such as, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, aspirin)
- Medicated cream or patches that are placed on the skin
- Prescription muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms
Ice and Heat
- Apply ice or a cold pack to the neck for 15-20 minutes. Repeat four times a day for 2-3 days. Cold will help reduce swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
- Moist heat helps loosen tight or injured muscles. Wait for swelling to go away before using heat therapy.
- Massage—to help increase blood flow and reduce tension.
- Cervical traction—a special technique to stretch the neck and reduce muscle spasm.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Drive carefully to avoid car accidents.
- Wear your seat/shoulder belt.
- Avoid contact sports.
- Do exercises that strengthen the neck muscles.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.aaos.org
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Physical Therapy Canada http://www.physicaltherapy.ca
Alleva JT, Franklin J, et al. Frontera: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley and Belfus; 2002: chap 5.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org. Accessed July 17, 2009.
Cervical sprain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 26, 2012. Accessed November 27, 2012.
Conlin A, Bhogal S, et al. Treatment of whiplash-associated disorders—part II: Medical and surgical interventions. Pain Research & Management. 2005;10:33-40.
Duane TM, Wilson SP, et al. Canadian cervical spine rule compared with computed tomography: a prospective analysis. J Trauma. 2011;71(2):352-357.
Langevin P, Peloso PM, et al. Botulinum toxin for subacute/chronic neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(7):CD008626.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/. Accessed July 17, 2009.
Neck sprain. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00410. Updated August 2007. Accessed July 17, 2009.
Renstrom P. Sports Injuries: Basic Principles of Prevention and Care. Boston, MA: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1993.
Teasell RW, McClure JA, et al. A research synthesis of therapeutic interventions for whiplash-associated disorder (WAD): part 2 - interventions for acute WAD. Pain Res Manag. 2010;15(5):295-304.
1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/27/2012 -