What is Cervical Injuries
Cervical injuries have to do with trauma to the cervical spine, located in your neck. The cervical spine is comprised of seven vertebrae (the cervical vertebrae), separated by discs. The vertebrae and discs surround your spinal cord and spinal canal, an area dense with many nerves and nerve endings.
An injury to the cervical spine may occur as a result of a disease (such as degenerative disc disease), strain (such as from holding the neck in an awkward position for long periods of time), or an event (such as whiplash). Symptoms may be related to the injuries to the bones themselves, or to any of the tissues in the neck, including muscles, ligaments, skin, arteries, veins, ligaments, thyroid gland, lymph glands, parathyroid glands, esophagus, larynx and trachea. Pain felt in the cervical spine is referred to as cervical pain, or simply, neck pain.
Symptoms of neck pain may include sharp or dull pain, tenderness, numbness, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, swelling and neck stiffness. Generally, the pain is worsened when the person attempts to move his or her neck.
Certain activities put a person at a higher risk for cervical injuries, including contact sports, motor vehicle racing, bull or bronco riding, and so forth. While the best prevention would be to avoid such activities, it’s imperative that the participant where a neck brace and routinely perform neck strengthening exercises.
Injuries to the neck can be treated with a variety of methods, including combinations, depending on the specifics of the injury. Exercise, cervical manipulation (chiropractic adjustment) and/or cervical mobilization, medication and surgery are all treatments used to improve cervical conditions.
Neck pain medications may include pain killers, such as acetaminophen,NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), muscle relaxants, topical creams and patches.
Surgery is the rarest treatment for cervical injuries, employed only for cases of instability, cancer or other diseases, as well as conditions such as herniated discs and pinched nerves that have caused prolonged pain and disability, showing no improvement with more conservative treatment.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgions, the most common neck injuries involve the soft tissues: the muscles and ligaments. One cause of this is hyperextension, that is, a backward motion of the neck beyond its normal limits, or hyperflexion, which would be the forward motion of the neck beyond its normal limits.
The most major concern with cervical injuries is whether any damage has occurred to the spinal cord, as this can cause paralysis. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI), not including those who die at the scene of the accident, is approximately 40 cases per million population in the U.S., or approximately 12,000 new cases each year. SCI primarily affects young adult males.