So you’ve been experiencing some neck pain, have you? You’re not alone.
Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain, and it can be caused by several things – from strains and sprains to arthritis and other health conditions.
But what can you do about it?
We’ll take a look at the truth about neck pain, including the different causes and treatments.
We hope this information will help you get relief from your symptoms and live a better quality of life.
Overview: Neck Strains and Neck Sprains
In this blog, we’ll talk about neck pain that is caused by neck strain and neck sprain. But what is the difference between the two? Are they the same thing?
Sprains have something to do with ligaments. Ligaments are bands of tough, flexible tissue that connect two bones, cartilage or hold a joint together.
On the other hand, the strain has something to do with the tendons. Tendons are cords that attach muscles to bones. They are strong and made of a type of tissue called collagen.
There is a big difference between the two types of neck pain: sprain and strain. You will feel different and we will use different treatments to help you depending on which type of neck pain you have.
Structures in the Neck
There are structures in the neck. we categorized them into five main structures namely:
- the bone that joins the arches (C1-C7),
- the disc with the soft cartilaginous tissue,
- ligaments that support the joints in the bones,
- tendons, and
- the nerves.
Tendons and Ligaments
Some of the structures in your neck might be the cause of your neck pain. Your ligaments and muscle tendons might be part of the problem. Ligaments are like structural support that doesn’t move. For example, they hold your posture together along with your bones.
If you’re moving your neck down or looking left and right, you’re using muscles and tendons. These actions require the stagnant structures like the ligaments to be well tuned up to create the movement and hold stability with that movement.
The ligaments work like a hammock between two bones. They hold them together and stop them from moving too much. There are also muscles attached to the bone at the tendon.
Analysis of an Injury
Looking from the outside in, the tendons are injured first before the ligaments when there is a bump or trauma. There is a big difference between when the tendon gets injured and when the ligament gets injured.
When a person has a strain, they will experience pain that lasts for about three or four days in that ballpark. This pain is usually located in the neck area and is described as being stiff.
You can’t turn your head and look anywhere. The muscle is smart enough to recognize when the tendon is injured. If it is injured, the muscle will go into a contraction. This prevents other fibers from breaking and opening up and the strain continues to evolve. It’s a protective mechanism.
Your body tries to create a guard while the fibers settle into a slight scar that will eventually break down into healthy tendon fibers. Typically, the course of a strain is something like three or four days of intense gripping pain where you really can’t have a hard time maneuvering.
Then, over the next two to three weeks, the injury starts to get better and goes back to baseline. Just because it goes back to the baseline, doesn’t mean you’re cured at that point. It’s critical to get exercises because that tendon is no longer held together with tightly wound, tendon fibers.
The tendon is held together by scar tissue. This tissue needs to break down so the tendon can be healthy again. If it doesn’t, the tendon will keep getting injured.
Remedies to Strains
If the injury is long-term, you might be hesitant to do certain things. You might not do challenging exercises, but only simple stretching. Challenging exercises can help build a new foundation for the tendon and muscles. The tendon and muscles will grow stronger and provide more protection around the joint.
After people start feeling better, they need to do challenging exercises that will help them recover. These activities can build up some of the muscles in the neck. The tendons can become thicker and they can recover more resiliently from that end.
Sprains feel different from strains. Many people come in after a car accident, trip, or fall and say they are lucky that they didn’t hurt anything. They don’t feel any pain. But then a few months or years later, they come back and say that they have been getting neck pain.
This is an injury to the ligaments in your spine. It might be from something like whiplash. If it injures a tendon, you will see and feel it right away.
If you injure a ligament, you won’t feel anything right away. Ligaments are not as heavily innervated as tendons. However, when they’re injured and in a chronic inflammatory state, nerves grow into the ligament and it becomes painful later.
The ligament can also create stagnant, structural support. If it is failing, that means other structures have to take up the stress. Since ligaments are not built for a kind of load, then they’re going to start breaking down and causing other pain issues.
Remedies for Sprains
What can be done for people who have sprains? Basic exercises might not help someone with an injured ligament. To help your injured ligament, you need to do exercises that a physical therapist or movement specialist has prescribed. These exercises are part of a plan that will help you recover from your injury.
There are injections that we do to help tighten up the ligaments. This can recreate the stagnant stability of the ligaments and stop them from getting worse.
Those ligaments also need exercises for your body to retrain and get an alignment of all those fibers. It’s a combination of injections and exercise that helps them to build up.
A strain from a tendon does reasonably well with exercises alone. There are rare situations where intervention is needed in terms of treatments, injections, or different procedures that can help a strain that has a hard time healing.
In terms of healing and recovery, It is often said that the cells heal at the rate the hair grows. How long will it take for the cells to mature after you get injured?
It takes about twelve weeks for a full year for the area to look and feel more like other tissue. Continue to exercise and stretch the area lightly every day so that the tissue becomes more resilient.
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from neck pain, we FEEL your pain. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help ease the tension and get back to your life.
Our team of physical therapists has put together a few tips for you to try on your own at home. But if the pain persists or gets worse, please don’t hesitate to schedule a free discovery call with us.
We would be happy to discuss our treatment options with you and see how we can help get you back on track. Thanks for reading!
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional