Mississauga Chiropractor Presents: Cervical Sprain/Strain

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Here’s another blog from a Mississauga Chiropractor…


A Cervical Sprain/Strain consists of soft tissue damage (stretch, tearing or rupture) to the ligaments, muscles, intervertebral discs & other tissues surrounding the cervical spine.

    Grade                                                                                 Clinical Findings        Healing Time



  •   Simple strain/sprain – minimal disruption of   adjacent fibres
  •   Minimal pain
  •   Trigger points with some loss of range of   motion
  •   Fixation & decreased joint play in the   spine

7 days to 4 weeks



  •   Moderate strain/sprain – partial tearing of   the ligaments or muscle, hemorrhage, marked pain & splinting
  •   Athletic injury, lifting damage
  •   More moderate trigger points with severe loss   of range of motion

2 weeks to 1 year



  •   Severe strain/sprain – may be complete   laceration of muscle
  •   Bruising, marked dysfunction, palpate damage
  •   Refer for surgical evaluation

2 months to > 1   year


Potential Causes:

  • Direct trauma – falls, motor vehicle accident (cervical acceleration-deceleration), whiplash, sports injuries
  • Overuse, fatigue, repetitive microtrauma – over hours, days, months of the same motion
  • Postural – may be either an intrinsic postural problem (e.g. hyperlordosis or hypolordodis) or an extrinsic postural problem (e.g. prolonged stressful positions, student posture)
  • Sudden unguarded movement



  • Patient may experience immediate pain or pain shortly after an injury
  • Minor injuries may have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – 24-48 hours after strenuous exercise.
  • Pain may radiate into the occiput or down to the shoulder/arm
  • Headache (usually cervicogenic), possible tinnitus
  • Range ofMotion will be limited in most motions.
    • If there is pain in multiple directions, it suggests joint capsule damage
    • If there is pain in a single direction it suggests muscle or tendon damage



  • Pain control with ice & rest
  • Cervical adjustments
  • Pain free range of motion exercises
  • Soft tissue therapy, ART (active release technique)
  • Stability & Endurance exercises & body mechanics training



  • Most patients will recover in 6-8 weeks; recovery after whiplash usually occurs within 2-3 months


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