Dealing with Neck Strain
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A neck sprain is the stretching or tearing of the malleable tissues of the neck, including the muscles and ligaments. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect the bones to each other. Mild sprains may involve only stretching of the ligaments, whereas more severe sprains would involve partial tears. Most individuals experience neck strain at some point in their lives. It causes pain and stiffness of the neck muscles leading to increase in discomfort.

Symptoms of Neck Strain:


A person is said to be suffering from neck strain when:


There is sharp or dull pain in the neck.
The neck is stiff.
Daily tasks are difficult to do because of pain or stiffness in the neck
The shoulder pains in addition to the neck pain, in some cases
The back pains in addition to neck pain, in some cases

Causes of Neck Strain:


Acute injury to the neck causes neck strain. Sometimes neck strain can be caused by an abrupt movement of the neck, such as whiplash. Whiplash is a non medical term used to describe neck pain subsequent to an injury to the soft tissues of the neck. It is caused by an abnormal action or power applied to your neck that causes movement beyond the neck\'s normal range of motion. When the head is flung backward (hyperextension) or forward (hyperflexion), it is collectively known as whiplash.

Treatment of Neck Strain:

Bed rest may be essential if pain is moderate. A cervical collar may be helpful

A small pillow or cushion can be positioned under the nape of the neck of the individual in order to provide proper neutral positioning.

Pain control with medicines is frequently helpful. Muscle relaxants are also used, although they are not considered first-line therapy.

Gradually resume your usual daily physical activity and work.

If pain lasts more than 2-3 weeks, go to a health care practitioner. For people with persistent pain, several treatment plans are available.

Applying an ice pack to the neck for fifteen to twenty minutes, 4 times a day for two to three days will help in reducing swelling and pain. It is advised not to apply ice directly to your skin.

Massaging helps reduce tension and increases circulation in the neck.

Moist heat will help in the loosening of injured or tight muscles. Only apply a heat pack after the swelling has disappeared. Heat relieves pain.

Gentle exercises, like gently moving your neck to one side and holding it for 30 seconds, are good pain relievers. Stretch your neck in as many directions as your pain allows.

For temporary relief from neck pain, creams and gels made to relieve muscle and joint pain can help. Products with ingredients such as menthol and camphor are very effective.

For relieving nerve root or spinal cord compression, surgery may be an option. Surgery is the last resort and is rarely needed for neck pain

Prevention:

Take frequent breaks
- For people who drive long distances or work long hours at their computer, breaks are necessary. To reduce neck strain, keep your head back, over your spine. Avoid clenching your teeth.

Adjust your desk, chair and computer
- For people who work on computers, the monitor should be at eye level. Adjust your desk, chair and computer accordingly. The knees should be slightly lower than hips. It is advised to use the chair\'s armrests.

Avoid tucking the phone- Do not snug the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk. Getting a headset is a better option if you are use the phone frequently.

Stretch frequently- If you work at a desk, stretch frequently. Shrug your shoulders up and down. You can also pull your shoulders blades together and then relax. To stretch your neck muscles, pull your shoulders down while leaning your head to each side.

Avoid sleeping on your stomach- Do not sleep on your stomach, as this position puts stress on your neck. A pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck is the best for night.
 
Avoiding contact sports and drive cautiously
- Avoiding contact sports and driving cautiously can minimize the risk of having a neck strain.