How to Treat a Neck Sprain

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Treat a Neck Sprain
Treat a Neck Sprain

How to Treat a Neck Sprain. The neck is prone to sprains, because it is the least protected area of the spinal column with the most stresses demanded of it. If you've damaged a muscle, tendon or ligament in your neck area and have ruled out more severe conditions involving vertebrae or nerves, you can treat the sprain effectively and probably heal completely within a few days.

Things You'll Need

  • Gel pack, bag of ice or bag of frozen peas
  • Over-the-counter medication for pain and inflammation
  • Information on stretching

Contain the Pain

Treat yourself immediately after a sprain for the best results.

Take over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce the inflammation that causes pain.

Ice the injured area for immediate pain relief and additional suppression of inflammation. Alternate ice use for 20 minutes on and 40 minutes off. A flexible gel pad gives great coverage on the neck.

Use a topical anti-inflammatory gel from the first-aid aisle at your grocery or pharmacy for pain relief at times when an ice pack is too cumbersome.

Prevent a Rerun

Continue anti-inflammatory treatment for at least 3 days following your injury, in order to prevent a relapse.

Treat neck pain by increasing your freedom of movement in that area. Get a book such as "Stretching" and do this daily (see Resources below).

Tips & Warnings

  • Sprains can be caused by sudden awkward movements, repetitive movements or excessive strain, such as heavy lifting.
  • Store your gel pack in the refrigerator for the most comfortable use. It's cold enough to work but not so cold it will "burn."
  • Place a towel between your skin and very cold ice packs for protection. You don't need to do this if you use a refrigerator-chilled gel pack.
  • If pain is shooting or spreads to another area, see a doctor or chiropractor right away.
  • If pain persists or grows stronger after a few days, see a doctor or chiropractor.
  • A neck sprain may be a sign of other health problems. If neck pain recurs, consult a health-care practitioner.
  • Take all medications as directed.

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