What should I do next for a neck sprain?
Dear MC , I’m sorry to hear about your injury. It is good that you do not have any neurological symptoms. The most common cause of neck and back ache in an otherwise healthy young individual is a muscle strain.
However, with the background of a traumatic incident, the first thing I would recommend would be for you to have your neck screened to exclude any possibility of an injury such as a fracture or a ligamenteous strain.
The best way to do this is to see a health professional to get a full physical and neurological exam, and an opinion on what further investigations are needed to evaluate your condition.
After evaluation and exclusion of any worrying injuries, a simple neck sprain or muscle tightness can be treated with a short course of painkillers and physiotherapy.
This would take some time to recover and get back to normal function depending on the extent of injury (a simple neck muscle strain might take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to recover).
Hope you feel better soon, and I wish you all the best with your recovery!
Sorry to hear about your injury - sounds like it was quite painful, but the good news is that you did not have an nerve/neurological symptoms. I had a similar experience not to long ago following a collision while riding; I developed quite significant neck pain particularly with movement but again there were no neurological symptoms. In my case it took a couple of weeks to settle.
There are a couple of key things to do with this:
1. Regular pain-killers - I cannot over emphasize this as significant pain can not only further limit movement but it can also cause considerable night time disturbance. Not sure what you have at home but taking this regularly will be helpful
2. Consider early intervention from something like massage or acupuncture to help alleviate pain and muscle tightness. Often following a neck injury, the surrounding musculature becomes very tight together with the fascia. By acting quickly to release these areas it can make all the difference to the speed of recovery.
3. Keep moving as much as possible. The natural tendency is to limit movement to prevent pain, nevertheless in doing so, you are not encouraging the neck to move and hence further exacerbates the symptoms.
As Dr Sean mentions, if there are ongoing symptoms and your pain is quite severe, its worth seeing someone for further assessment - this can be a Sports Physiotherapist or Physician. They will take you through a more thorough clinical assessment and treat according to your symptoms.
In the future, and for anyone else who may be looking at this, important things to consider with neck injuries are the following:
1. Is there mid-line neck pain?
2. Do you have any other injuries that might be masking pain (particularly if they are above nipple level)?
3. Do you have any change in sensation, tingling or weakness in the limbs?
4. Do you have any apprehension about moving your neck?
5. Was there significant trauma/force applied to the neck or is there any concerns about the individual's level of responsiveness?
In these cases, it might be best to call for an ambulance and keep the casualty in a safe and comfortable position.
Hope this helps and your neck pain improves.