Sore Neck injuries – strain, fracture & contusion
Injuries to the neck can be serious, particularly in the case of broken or fractured vertebrae. Neck strains are less serious and far more common, and involve injury to the muscles or tendons of the neck. Contusions are bruises to the skin and underlying tissue of the neck, usually the result of a direct blow.
Cause of injury
Sudden twisting of the neck. Serious fall. Direct blow to the neck, in the case of contusion.
Signs and symptoms
Head, neck and shoulder pain. Crackling sensation in the neck. Loss of neck strength and mobility.
Complications if left unattended
Injuries to the neck are potentially serious and deserve prompt medical attention. Long-term paralysis, loss of motion and coordination, calcification and osteoporosis are possible side-effects. In the case of fracture, the injury can lead to paraplegia and is also sometimes fatal.
Immobilisation to protect the spinal cord. Analgesics for pain.
Rehabilitation and prevention
For neck strains, immobilisation for a period of weeks with a brace may be recommended. In cases of fracture, the broken vertebrae may be surgically pinned together with screws and the patient may be placed in a neck cast. Physical therapy following healing will attempt to re-establish range of motion, flexibility and strength. Helmets or other athletic headgear as well as attention to proper technique can help prevent some neck injuries.
Outcomes for neck injury vary widely depending on the nature and severity. In cases of fracture, the prognosis is generally worse with injuries occurring higher up the cervical spine.
Neck strains and contusions are far less serious and their outcome given proper treatment and rehabilitation is usually good. Severe strains in which the muscle-tendon-bone attachment is ruptured may require surgical repair.