What You Should Know about Neck Injuries and Sports

neck injuries in sports

As the average weight of the population steadily rises and activity levels decrease, adults and children alike are encouraged to participate in sports and other healthy activities. Unfortunately, many sports carry varying degrees of risk, which may include the chance of neck, or cervical injury. Because knowing the symptoms of strains and fractures can help alert parents and coaches to the possibility of a serious neck injury, The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration in Santa Monica is going to explore some of the most common sports related neck injuries.

Cervical Sprain, Strain and Whiplash

A sudden jerking of the neck and head from impact during play can cause a sprain or strain of the neck. A sprain occurs when the bands that join bones together or ligaments are torn. Strains refer to injuries of the tendons which connect the muscles to bones and muscle injury. Whiplash is the sudden movement of the head forward and then quickly backward, which causes spraining and straining. Symptoms of neck sprains and strains include stiffening of the neck muscles, decreased movement, pain and headache.

Cervical Fracture & Compression Fractures

The possibility of neck fracture is terrifying because of the prospect of associated paralysis. When cervical fracture is suspected, it is crucial that qualified medical personnel stabilize the neck before the patient is moved in order to prevent further injury that may result in paralysis. Symptoms linked with neck fracture may present as pain, which may vary in severity, weakness, paralysis, loss of bowel and bladder control, bruising and swelling.

Compression fractures are also common in sports and are often treated with a cervical color or brace that is worn for six to eight weeks, allowing the bone to heal on its own. However, more severe or complex fractures may require surgical intervention such as surgical decompression.

Preventing Sports Related Neck Injuries

Athletes can practice the following precautionary measures to help avoid the incidence of neck injury:

  • Warming up to prepare the muscles for activity
  • Wearing protective gear that is designed to stabilize vulnerable bones and tissues
  • Diving should not be attempted in water less than 12 feet deep.
  • High-impact sports should be avoided when a history of neck injury is present.

For more information about neck treatments, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Dr. Hyun W. Bae, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a team of non-surgical and surgical spine specialists who can help determine the best course of action after a sports related neck injury. To schedule an in-person consultation, please call (310) 828-7757 today.