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Cervical Strain, Ambulatory Care
A cervical strain
is when muscles or tendons in your neck are stretched. Tendons are strong tissues that connect muscles to bones. Cervical strain may be called whiplash because it can happen when your neck is quickly whipped forward and back. The pain may be sudden, or it may begin hours after the injury. Cervical strain is most commonly caused by a car accident or a contact sports injury.
Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:
- Pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms, face, or scalp
- Shortness of breath, a hoarse voice, or problems swallowing
Treatment for a cervical strain
may include 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.
Manage your symptoms:
- Gradually return to your normal activities. Stop if you have pain. Avoid activities that can cause more damage to your neck, such as heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.
- 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.
- Sleep without a pillow to help decrease pain. Instead, roll a small towel tightly and place it under your neck.
- Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.
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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.