Neck and Back Injury

January 25, 2011

Neck and Back Injury Recovery – The Treatments

Recovery plans for neck or back injuries vary depending on the severity of the injuries and the patients’ health conditions. Neck and back injury recovery generally involves medical treatments that start with a conservative and nonsurgical treatment. For severe neck and back injuries, surgical treatment may be needed after the conservative treatments fail to relieve the symptoms.

Neck Injury Treatment

Most neck injuries involve only soft tissue such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Severe neck injuries may also involve cervical vertebrae, intervertebral discs, joints, or even the spinal cord.

A treatment plan for a neck injury is dependent on the severity and symptoms of the injury and the patient’s specific medical condition. The following are common neck injury treatments.

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines. Because neck injury is generally associated with neck pain and swelling, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines are often prescribed to help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling.
  • Muscle relaxants. Stiffness is another common symptom of neck injury. Muscle relaxants can be used to reduce the stiffness.
  • Cold therapy. Cold treatment using an ice pack can also help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.
  • Heat therapy. Heat therapy using a heating pad or hot water bottle may also be used to further relieve neck pain and reduce neck tension. But because heat can worsen inflammation and swelling, you should not use heat therapy before the swelling has completely disappeared.
  • Cervical collar. Depending on the condition, a patient may need to wear a cervical collar (also known as cervical or neck brace) for 2-3 weeks to support the neck and head and to avoid potential further neck injury.
  • Surgery. For severe neck injuries that have caused damage to cervical discs, vertebrae, or the spinal cord, surgical repair is often needed.

Other neck injury treatments may include antidepressants, physical therapy, cervical traction, and range-of-motion exercises. A short period of bed-rest lasting no more than 3 days may also help relieve neck pain. But more than 3 days of bed-rest could delay the healing process and are generally not recommended.

Back Injury Treatment

Your back is made up of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and the spine, which is composed of bones (vertebrae), intervertebral discs, and the spinal cord. Back injury is a general term used to refer to all injuries to your back muscles, ligaments, tendons, or the spine. As the main bearer of the upper body weight, the lower back is the most common site of back injuries.

Common types of back injury include ligament sprains, muscle and tendon strains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. Treatment options for these injuries are different.

Back injury treatment for sprains and strains

Treatment options for both sprains and strains in the back usually include the following.

  • Resting the injured area
  • Heat or cold therapy to reduce pain and stiffness
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Physical therapy and exercise

Back injury treatment for herniated discs

Resting, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and physical therapy can temporarily reduce the symptoms caused by a herniated disc. But if the herniation continues to cause pain following conservative treatments, surgery may be needed to diminish the pain caused by the herniation. Minimally invasive spine surgery has been proven effective in treating herniated discs in the lumbar region.

Back injury treatment for fractured vertebrae

Common treatment options for fractured vertebrae include the following.

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Muscle relaxants to help reduce stiffness
  • A back brace to help support the back and limit motion of the injured area to avoid further injury
  • Back surgery to fix severe or multiple fractures
  • Physical therapy to help rehabilitate the injured region

The time needed for a full neck and back injury recovery varies from person to person. For example, an elderly person may need substantially longer time to achieve a full neck or back injury recovery than a young person.

In addition to the treatment options mentioned above, a balanced diet and exercise may also help speed up neck and back injury recovery.


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