Neck sprains and strains are common. Although the symptoms are similar, sprains and strains are distinctly different soft-tissue disorders.
Sprain: injury to a ligament caused by overuse or trauma
Strain: injury to a tendon or muscle caused by overuse or trauma
Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that occurs following sudden extension and flexion of the neck. The exaggerated back-and-forth head movement frequently associated with an automobile accident can injure vertebrae, surrounding muscles, ligaments and nerve roots. The onset of symptoms may be immediate or appear several days later. Whiplash is considered a neck sprain. Most patients with whiplash recover within three months after the injury, although in some cases, neck pain and headache persists.
Muscle pain that develops from cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder is an example of a neck strain. Both sprains and strains can cause severe pain and are sometimes temporarily disabling. Typical symptoms include:
In addition to the above, whiplash symptoms may include:
Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Formerly St. Luke’s-Roosevelt
Hospital in Manhattan
Formerly Lenox Hill Hospital