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Neck Pain After Falling and Hitting Head

Jan 31, 2022

Neck Pain After Falling and Hitting HeadWe should preface with a disclaimer: if you’re experiencing neck pain immediately after falling on your head, you should go to a doctor and make sure it’s not an emergency. Impacts to the head and neck can break vertebrae, cause a cervical dislocation, or even cause direct damage to the spinal column itself. If it is a fresh injury, you may need to consider the possibility that this is a medical emergency and treat the situation accordingly. Neck pain following a fall could be a minor inconvenience, but it’s best to confirm that it is just that before taking further action.

However, if you have confirmed that the injury in question isn’t life-threatening or severe, then we may be able to help by telling you treatment for neck pains that you may take.

Common Minor Neck Injuries

Neck injuries are more common than one might expect. This isn’t too surprising, however, as the head and neck are very prone to damage. The average human head weighs in between 8-12 lbs, and your body has to constantly balance that atop your spine without letting it flop around. If your head gets whipped around too hard, it could strain or compress the vertebrae in your neck, causing pain. Fortunately, it isn’t always an immediate hospital bill.

Stingers/Burners

These are very commonly experienced by athletes, but you also may have experienced this during your birth. Stingers, burners, or whatever you choose to call them, tend to happen due to the head and shoulder being pulled in different directions, which can occur during childbirth as well as when sustaining a head injury from the side. This causes trauma to the brachial plexus, which tends to result in difficulty moving one arm, muscle weakness, and that hallmark stinging and burning feeling. There is also evidence to suggest that manual therapy could speed up the healing of these particular injuries.

However, there is one thing to watch out for. Immediately after the injury, many people report feeling a warm sensation around the site of the injury. If this sensation lasts for more than a few minutes, it is advised that you seek medical help, as this could be an indicator of a much more severe neck injury than just a simple burner.

Whiplash

Contrary to popular belief, whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) is not a diagnosis in itself. It’s a general descriptor for a variety of neck and spinal injuries stemming from a sudden and forceful back-and-forth motion of the head. This is usually a common car accident injury that hide under the surface and also occurs at other high-speed collisions and can cause a variety of issues, both minor and severe. Typically, injuries associated with WAD include soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains to the cervical ligaments and muscles, and symptoms can range from neck pain to cognitive impairment. They also tend to be characterized not just by neck pain, but also by delayed neck pain after a fall. Symptoms typically clear after the first 2-3 months post-injury, but there are cases of chronic WAD where patients report symptoms even beyond the three-month mark.

As far as treatments go, they tend to vary based on the exact injury sustained. However, it has been shown that exercise therapy focusing on the neck is effective in reducing symptoms. Since treatments for neck pain caused by WAD can be as varied as the circumstances under which you achieved the whiplash, it may be best to consult one of our professionals at AICA College Park to find the treatment option that’s right for you.

Herniated Discs

Your body is a well-oiled machine, quite literally. Between the vertebrae in your spine are soft pockets of gel surrounded by cartilage, known as spinal discs. These discs act as a cushion as well as a flexible joint, allowing for the spine to bend and twist with minimal effort. Unfortunately, these discs can rupture when twisted too suddenly, due to harsh compression, or even from a forceful blow to the spine. When this happens, the gel within can leak onto one of the surrounding nerves, causing intense pain in the neck. These injuries are the most common ones to occur to the spinal discs, and the chances of you experiencing neck pain as a symptom are around 65%.

Treatments usually include manipulation of the neck, such as targeted exercise, physiotherapy, acupuncture, immobilization, and traction. In some cases, surgery may also be used to alleviate the pains of a herniated disc.

General Prevention

Of course, the best way to treat any neck injury is to take precautions to make sure the neck doesn’t get injured in the first place. By this, I don’t mean wrap your head and neck up in bubble wrap. All injuries sustained by the body will be much worse and heal much more slowly if the body hasn’t been properly exercised, and with the American lifestyle on average becoming more sedentary, it can be easy to fall into the trap of simply not preparing your body for the worst. Exercises focusing on the neck and shoulders are, of course, recommended the most for keeping the cervical area strong, but it may also pay to train your reflexes in order to decrease the chances of even landing on your head to begin with.

Beyond that, your proper treatment will vary depending on a number of factors. If you feel like you may need help figuring out exactly what to do, then consider contacting your College Park AICA office. Our professionals would be happy to evaluate your situation and provide a treatment plan based on your needs.

Sources

Anderson, Charlotte, et al. “A narrative review on cervical interventions in adults with chronic whiplash-associated disorder.” BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 4.1 (2018): e000299.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2017-000299

Dressendorfer, Rudy. “Burner/Stinger Syndrome.” EBSCO, Cinahl Information Systems, 3 Jan. 2020. https://www.ebscohost.com/assets-sample-content/RRC-Burner-Stinger-Syndrome_CR.pdf.

Silva, Luis Eduardo Carelli Teixeira da, and Luiz Eduardo Pereira Costa Assis de Almeida. “Update on Cervical Hernia Treatment: Conservative Management and Indications of Different Surgical Techniques.” Revista Brasileira de Ortopedia 56 (2021): 18-23.
https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0041-1724007

 

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