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Cervical Strain (Whiplash)

ortho spine Cervical

Also known as whiplash or neck strain, cervical strain is a common spinal injury. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell it apart from other cervical and upper torso problems.

At WakeMed, we tailor treatment of cervical strain to each individual patient, using our years of experience to foster the healing process and get patients back to feeling their best.

Symptoms of Cervical Strain

The core symptom of cervical strain is a low level of pain. Patients who develop whiplash from a car accident can feel higher levels of discomfort.

Tenderness, swelling, stiffness, headaches and muscle spasms are also fairly common.

Causes of Cervical Strain

Cervical strain can develop over time, and can be simply the result of poor posture. It’s also frequently caused by stretch injuries to the muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine.

Compressive forces can also be involved, as in the case of an acute incident such as a car accident or sports injury.

Diagnosing Cervical Strain

Our doctors take a detailed history of symptoms and conduct a thorough physical examination to check for typical whiplash symptoms.

We rely partly on a patient’s cervical spine range of motion to make a diagnosis, as well as imaging tests like X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans to rule out any cervical fractures, dislocations or spinal cord injuries.

Treating Cervical Strain

Most patients feel relief using anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, or using ice, moist heat or a neck brace.

Physical therapy, massage and stretching can also be effective.

Generally, symptoms resolve in a few days to a few weeks.

Make an Appointment

We welcome new patients. If you’d like to meet with one of WakeMed’s orthopaedists about cervical strain, please make an appointment by calling us at 919-232-5020.