How to deal with it
Neck sprain, which is in medical terms referred to as torticollis, can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common include the following:
- prolonged use of the muscle
lifting heavy weights
sleeping in a bad position
sitting in a draught
a severe and sudden movement
When it happens it is very painful and makes it near impossible to turn your head left or right or up or down. You end up feeling as if you have to hold your head in order to support it and in extreme cases when the muscles get drastically swollen, it is even difficult to lie down as the slightest pressure on your head causes even more pain. It can even become hard to swallow as the movement of the whole head is so restricted and after experiencing all this we can well understand where the expression 'a pain in the neck' comes from!
To try and deal with neck sprain at home you should immediately apply ice or a frozen bag of peas to the area. Place a towel over your neck area first in order to protect the skin from being burnt, as ice can burn just as much as intense heat. Do this for about fifteen minutes about four or five times a day.
This well help to bring the swelling down and it is precisely the swelling that is impairing the normal movement of your neck.
Medication, which you can buy over the counter at the chemist, should include something like Ibuprofen which is an anti-inflammatory with paracetamol for the pain. Along with this it is also advisable to take a muscle relaxant as with so much pain your neck muscles can go into spasm which ends up being counter productive to your recovery.
When suffering from a severe muscle sprain it may be difficult to sleep in your bed at night as even the pressure of your head lying on the pillow may be too much to bear. And quite apart from this, lying down in a horizontal position when one has neck sprain makes it quite difficult and painful to try and get up on your own.
If this is your case it is probably better to just accept from the start that you can't sleep in your bed and get yourself as comfortable as you can in an upright armchair with a blanket on top. You wont sleep very well but some sleep is better than none.
A neck collar is useful as your head will get very tired trying to hold itself up straight without moving and with the neck collar you can relax a bit more as your chin gets to rest itself on the upper rim of the neck collar.
One can buy neck collars from the chemist as well but the most comfortable type is probably the firm foam one which ties at the back of the neck with velcro. The foam is covered by a fine cotton meshing similar to the material used in bandages and so it is not unpleasant to wear.
Count on about three or four days of quite a lot of discomfort after which your neck should start recovering and feeling less swollen, less painful and you will start to be able to swallow easily again.
As soon as you feel some improvement try turning your head slowly to the right, then the left, up and then down as it's important to try and regain the mobility and flexibility of your neck as soon as possible. The only thing to bear in mind is to never push it. If you feel the slightest bit of pain this is your body's sign telling you to stop there. Maybe the next day you will find that you are able to turn your head a little bit further and with each new day you will progress more and more. Better to take it carefully and slowly rather than rush and find yourself back at square one again!!