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What Are Sprains and Strains?
Sprains and strains, including aching backs, neck and shoulders, are among the most common injuries. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments, the tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to one another at a joint. A strain is a stretching or tearing of a tendon or muscle tissue, commonly called a pulled muscle.
Given adequate time and rest, most sprained joints or strained muscles will heal themselves. But severe tearing or complete rupture of the affected tissues usually requires surgical repair. And damage caused by a sprain can leave the bones in the affected joint improperly aligned, or the ligaments so stretched and weakened that the joint is particularly vulnerable to future injury.
What Causes Sprains and Strains?
Anything that places sudden or unaccustomed stress on joints or muscles may cause a sprain or strain. Falls, lifting heavy objects, and the exertion of an unfamiliar sport, knocking a joint out of position and overstretching the supporting ligaments or muscles, are common culprits. Chronic overuse of a joint can also lead to stretching of ligaments, chronic inflammation, or chronic irritation of a muscle tendon. Being overweight, inactive, or in poor physical condition boosts the likelihood of injury. Improperly warming up and not stretching muscles before intense physical activity can also result in injury.
Cervical spine sprain and strain is often the result of a whiplash injury. Whiplash is a sudden jerk of the head and neck or abnormal motion beyond the neck's normal range of motion. Neck pain usually results due to injury of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Cervical spine sprain and strains are most commonly the result of motor vehicle accidents but accidental falls and sports-related accidents can also cause whiplash injury. Our local chiropractor in Santa Fe can diagnose injury to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the neck as cervical spine sprain and strain and provide you with the back injury treatment you need in order to overcome and even eliminate your pain. Using a combination of chiropractic care, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and physiotherapy, our back sprain treatment will treat the root of the problem instead of making the symptoms are you experiencing. Our spinal injury treatment is customized to the needs of each patient so you get exactly the care that you need.
When You Should Seek Back Sprain Treatment
Even though many of the cervical sprains and strains treated in our office are due to car accidents, the severity of the cervical sprain and strain injury may not always relate to the speed of the cars involved in the accident or the amount of damage to the cars. Collisions at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour can cause whiplash to occupants.
The symptoms of whiplash generally include neck pain and stiffness, and depending on the severity of the injury, signs and symptoms may also include:
● Taut and tender neck and shoulders
● Neck swelling and muscle spasms
● Anterior cervical spine (front of the neck) pain
● Difficulty moving the head
● Headache and dizziness
● Jaw tightness
More serious cases of whiplash can result in cervical facet syndrome, the technical term for pain radiating from the facet joints of the cervical spine. Each intervertebral area of the spine contains a disk that acts like a buffer of sorts between vertebrae. The facet joints are the posterior joints that actually facilitate the movement of the spin. When these facets are injured, it can cause serious pain to the patient.
Various degenerative diseases and conditions can affect this area of the spine, and the pain and numbness that results can often be misdiagnosed as a herniated disk. It’s important to seek medical help for any severe neck pain as this can be a sign of arthritis or other degenerative conditions affecting the joint.
Sign and symptoms may also include:
Ringing In The Ears
How Our Chiropractors in Santa Fe and Las Vegas NM Diagnose Whiplash
To diagnose sprain and strain injury we begin with a thorough history asking questions regarding:
● Mechanism of Injury
● Location of pain
● Aggravating and relieving factors
● Any neurologic symptoms
Then we perform a physical examination, which includes:
● Neurologic testing looking for weakness, sensory changes, reflex changes,
● Active and passive range of motion testing
● Orthopedic testing
Our chiropractor will begin the spinal injury diagnosis by inspecting and palpating the head and neck for signs of trauma. We look for a normal level of consciousness and alertness, physical strength in both arms and legs and the ability to sense the touching of the skin in different parts of the body. Finally, we look for other painful injuries elsewhere on the body.
The patient should tell the doctor if they feel numbness, or tingling in any of the extremities, or any other abnormal feelings during any of the aforementioned maneuvers. Usually we order X-rays of the neck to make sure there are no fractures or signs of other serious injury. Generally whiplash syndrome or cervical sprain and strain injury may not be seen on routine X-ray studies but if the X-rays reveal a loss of the normally anticipated cervical lordosis or a loss of cervical convergence then cervical muscle spasms or potential instability is implied. If the initial X-rays are normal, then flexion-extension X-rays may be obtained once the acute symptoms have subsided to reveal any ligamentous instability. When the X-rays appear abnormal, further imaging with a CT scan (to find fractures) or MRI (to find spinal cord injury, nerve injury, disc herniation, ligamentous disruption and hematoma) may be ordered.
How Back Injury Treatment Works in Our Santa Fe Office
Severe neck injuries associated with bone or spinal cord damage may require surgical intervention.
Treatment for sprain and strain injuries to the muscles, ligaments and tendons may include:
● Pain medications (over-the-counter or prescription and in severe cases Narcotic pain medication may be necessary)
● Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
● Muscle relaxers
● Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy
A cervical collar may be used for the first few days, but use should be limited to the time period prescribed. Cold packs or ice can be applied to the neck to minimize swelling and pain. Apply ice/cold to the neck area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat every hour, as needed, for the first 48-72 hours after the injury. Limit motion of the head and neck until pain and muscle tightness are gone. Limit strenuous activities such as sports or heavy lifting with range of motion exercises, muscle strengthening, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be prescribed.
Make an Appointment for Spinal Injury Treatment Today
Contact our office right away if you are experiencing back or neck pain or have recently been in an automobile accident. Our experienced, compassionate chiropractor will help you get the spinal injury treatment that you need to help decrease or even eliminate your painful symptoms.