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Strains and sprains are the most common causes of neck and back pain. A sprain refers to the stretching or tear of a ligament (tissue that connects adjacent bones). Sprains can occur during sports injuries. accidents, heavy lifting or falling.

Causes of Sprains

Sprains often occur as a result of:

  • Excessive flexion (bending forward)
  • Excessive extension (bending backward)
  • Heavy lifting or improper lifting
  • Falls
  • Inadequate warm up before exercise

Symptoms of Sprains

Symptoms of a sprains include:

  • Sharp pain in neck or back that may radiate to the shoulders, arms, buttocks or legs and is aggravated by movement
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle cramping or spasms
  • Tenderness over the affected region
  • Rarely, bowel or bladder dysfunction

Diagnosis of Sprains

An accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan are required for a successful outcome. Your doctor will arrive at a diagnosis and determine the cause of pain based on your medical history and the physical and neurological examination findings. Your doctor will also test your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory perception. Diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out a spinal fracture. Electromyography (EMG) may also be done to reveal any muscle dysfunction.

Treatment of Sprains

Sprains are commonly managed with non-surgical treatment without the need for spinal surgery. The non-surgical treatment options include activity modification, ice application, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, muscle relaxants, bracing, physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. To enhance the success of your treatment, your doctor may combine two or more treatment modalities.

Prevention of Sprains

Some of the preventive measures that can help prevent strains include:

  • Maintenance of a healthy body weight
  • A healthy well-balanced diet
  • Regular stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Proper lifting technique
Contact Us
New Jersey Orthopaedic Institute (NJOI)
  • Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center
  • St. Joseph's Health
  • Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
  • Chilton Medical Center