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Cervical Sprain


A cervical sprain is a stretched or torn muscle or ligament in your neck. Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones. Cervical sprains are usually caused by trauma to your neck, such as a sports injury.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have increased swelling or pain in your neck.
  • You have a headache or cannot move your neck normally.
  • You feel pain between your collarbone and your shoulder.
  • You have pain or numbness from your shoulder down to your hand.
  • You have problems with your vision, hearing, or balance.
  • You feel confused or cannot concentrate.
  • You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Wear a cervical collar as directed:

A soft collar supports your neck and holds it still. You may need to wear this collar for 7 to 10 days. By day 3, your healthcare provider may tell you to take the collar off for short periods of time. He may tell you to wear the collar less each day until you no longer need it.

Cervical Collars

Apply ice:

Apply ice on your neck for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Exercise your neck:

Begin gentle exercises as soon as you can move your neck without pain. Exercises will help decrease stiffness and improve the strength and movement of your neck. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of exercises you should do.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.