Cervical sprain or whiplash: causes and symptoms

Our medical experts will help you understand many of the diseases we usually treat in our clinics and how to avoid or treat them.

Cervical sprain or whiplash: causes and symptoms

Cervical sprains are a common injury among the population, often the result of traffic accidents. However, in many others, it can be prevented by taking care of postural hygiene and following certain guidelines. Next, all the aspects to take into account are explained.

What is a cervical sprain, and what are its causes?

A cervical sprain is a tear in the ligaments of the cervical vertebrae, causing pain that manifests itself in the form of "whiplash." It is common for this injury to appear as a result of a traffic accident, due to a strong impact from behind.

This injury is usually caused by sudden flexion and extension movements of the neck, or by strong impacts when the muscles are relaxed.

Cervical sprain symptoms

The most common symptom is usually acute pain in the neck area that, in many cases, is accompanied by stiffness and immobility of the neck.

In addition, this injury can cause headaches and dizziness, in the most extreme cases, the patient can experience vertigo. It is common for the pain to radiate through the upper back area and through the shoulders and arms.

Cervical sprain types

Depending on the symptoms presented by the patient, the cervical sprain is classified in degrees, in this way the following classification is established: we speak of grade 0 when the patient practically has no symptoms and can move the neck normally.

When a grade I sprain is diagnosed, the patient may have immobility or stiffness, but it is not constant pain. In cases of grade II sprain, the patient has immobility and tender points on palpation.

In grade III cervical sprains, it is normal for headaches accompanied by dizziness to be added to the aforementioned symptoms. And finally, grade IV refers to severe sprains that may be caused by a dislocation or bone fracture. In this case, the patient will present neck immobility that affects the performance of daily activities and acute pain.

Cervical sprain diagnosis

Regarding the diagnosis, it is important that the patient go to our cervical sprain specialist traumatologists in Madrid in the presence of symptoms or constant pain in the neck area.

First, a physical examination will be carried out to detect the points where the patient has the most pain. Furthermore, in many cases, it is necessary to carry out diagnostic imaging tests, which can provide more information. For example, X-rays, through which the existence of cervical lordosis can be detected, magnetic resonance imaging, or electromyography, in case there is suspicion that there may be compression of the spinal cord.

This cervical sprain is relatively mild when compared to other pathologies that our cervical can suffer. For this reason, it is necessary for the patient to see a specialist doctor and rule out more severe pathologies. The cervical disc herniation operation may entail the implantation of a cervical prosthesis if the patient requires it, although these cervical prostheses do not present sequelae.

Our traumatologists specializing in neck pain in Madrid are pioneers in cervical sprain and pathologies of the spine such as neck pain or herniated disc.

Cervical sprain treatment at our spine clinic in Madrid.

As for cervical sprain treatments, the most common is usually the recommendation of rest, to avoid overexertion and relax the muscles. On many occasions, pharmacological treatment, based on anti-inflammatories, is provided with the aim of relieving pain.

In these cases, physiotherapy treatments positively help the recovery time of the cervical sprain, focusing on rehabilitation exercises and postural correction, with the aim of avoiding a recurrence of the injury. This recovery time will depend on the degree of cervical sprain that occurs, ranging from a few weeks to two or three months.

In some patients, nerve stimulation is applied, with which nerve fibers are stimulated through low-intensity electrical currents, whose purpose is to relieve pain.

Usually, this sprain or whiplash does not have sequelae, although for a correct recovery it will always be necessary to go to a specialist in a cervical sprain.

Other types of neck pain

Although they are similar, there are different manifestations of pain, depending on the patient's pathology.

Cervicalgia is another pathology that affects the neck area, it manifests itself with pain in this area, but it is not related to a specific injury. In some cases, the chronification of the injury over time can lead to chronic neck pain.

Another common cervical pain in the elderly is cervical osteoarthritis, which is caused by degeneration of the cartilage of the joints.

Finally, cervical discopathy occurs when there is a damaged spinal disc that causes pain for the patient, affecting her daily life.

How to prevent a cervical sprain or contracture

In some cases it is difficult to avoid cervical sprains (commonly called cervical pain or neck sprain), since they are often the result of traffic accidents or domestic accidents, so it is important to control your posture when driving or traveling in a car, avoiding forced postures for the back or neck.

However, there are guidelines that can help prevent them. Foremost, it is advisable to avoid sports that involve sudden movements for the neck . In the case of these injuries, sleeping posture becomes very important, as well as the quality and hardness of the mattress and pillow used.

As has been observed, cervical sprains must be treated correctly to prevent them from becoming disabling and affecting the patient's quality of life.

 In addition, it is recommended to acquire healthy postural hygiene habits and go to a traumatologist specializing in cervical sprain.

Specialists in minimally invasive orthopedic surgery

Book your appointment with our team and get a specialized diagnosis of your spine.