Cervical Sprain

ExitCare ImageA cervical sprain is when the tissues (ligaments) that hold the neck bones in place stretch or tear.


  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15–20 minutes, 3–4 times a day.

  • You may have been given a collar to wear. This collar keeps your neck from moving while you heal.

  • Do not take the collar off unless told by your doctor.

  • If you have long hair, keep it outside of the collar.

  • Ask your doctor before changing the position of your collar. You may need to change its position over time to make it more comfortable.

  • If you are allowed to take off the collar for cleaning or bathing, follow your doctor's instructions on how to do it safely.

  • Keep your collar clean by wiping it with mild soap and water. Dry it completely. If the collar has removable pads, remove them every 1–2 days to hand wash them with soap and water. Allow them to air dry. They should be dry before you wear them in the collar.

  • Do not drive while wearing the collar.

  • Only take medicine as told by your doctor.

  • Keep all doctor visits as told.

  • Keep all physical therapy visits as told.

  • Adjust your work station so that you have good posture while you work.

  • Avoid positions and activities that make your problems worse.

  • Warm up and stretch before being active.


  • Your pain is not controlled with medicine.

  • You cannot take less pain medicine over time as planned.

  • Your activity level does not improve as expected.


  • You are bleeding.

  • Your stomach is upset.

  • You have an allergic reaction to your medicine.

  • You develop new problems that you cannot explain.

  • You lose feeling (become numb) or you cannot move any part of your body (paralysis).

  • You have tingling or weakness in any part of your body.

  • Your symptoms get worse. Symptoms include:

  • Pain, soreness, stiffness, puffiness (swelling), or a burning feeling in your neck.

  • Pain when your neck is touched.

  • Shoulder or upper back pain.

  • Limited ability to move your neck.

  • Headache.

  • Dizziness.

  • Your hands or arms feel week, lose feeling, or tingle.

  • Muscle spasms.

  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.