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What precautions to take for a sprained neck?

Thursday, 13 November 2003
Answered by: Hansa Kanuga
Consultant Physiotherapist

Mumbai
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Q. I had been feeling a kind of numbness in my head for some time. After several tests, X-ray etc. it was diagnosed as cervical spine spasm. The report is as follows: There is straightening of the cervical spine spasm. Minimal osteophytic lippings are noted on C5 and C6 in keeping with early cervical spondylosis. Till now as there was no pain, we could not exactly put a cause for the numbness in head. After a few days of bed rest I started feeling better. Then I shifted the TV in my bed room. Two days after that I noticed that I have a pain in my lower neck and near the spot where the neck joins the shoulder. I do not know if the shifting of TV caused the pain or the earlier diagnosis of the spasm just took its time to materialise into pain. Although my pain has reduced and the dizziness/numbness in head has reduced, I sill find it painful while sitting at my work desk in front of the computer. I have also changed my chair to reduce the pain and allow my neck to rest on the chair. At the moment I am undergoing some massage from a physiotherapist for this as there is stiffness in my shoulder and neck muscle. Please suggest what should I do and suggest a doctor in Pune?

A.  Spasm is very common. The spasm as you have mentioned, is usually forgotten as it does disappear fast, but it produces a lot of stress on the spine and repeated sprains cause degeneration and cervical spondylosis which then become a constant source of pain. Most severe spondylotic changes occur in those who have sustained repeated sprains other than congenital deformities. Shifting your T.V. in your room could be the cause as the height of the table on which the T.V. is placed could be making you keep your neck in flexion or extension, increasing the spasm resulting in pain. There could be other factors also, as the height of the chair you are using, the lighting in your room, or the posture in which you are watching the T.V. Try to ascertain the cause and rectify it. Basically, you should follow a few precautions at work and leisure. 1. While shaving, do not tilt the head backwards. Hold it straight and shave. 2. Do not work at your desk continuously. Take frequent breaks when possible. 3. Work at eye level. If the table is low, have a podium kept on table at even level. 4. Do not try to reach things above your head. Use a step ladder. 5. Try to use common sense while lifting heavy objects. Do not strain. 6. Avoid long drives. Make a stop every 50-75 kms. Adjust the head rest so that the head is well supported. Adjust the speed in keeping with the conditions of the road. Do not speed up unnecessarily lest frequent applications of brakes should wrench your neck. 7. Use a firm mattress and keep your head level. 8. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your back or on your side. 9. Learn the neck exercises (range of motion exercises) from your physiotherapist and do them at least three times a day. Yes, I suggest, when you come to Pune, do visit an orthopaedician. You can see Dr.K.H.Sancheti; Director and chief orthopaedic Surgeon; Sancheti Institute of orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Shivaji Nagar, Pune.

A.  Spasm is very common. The spasm as you have mentioned, is usually forgotten as it does disappear fast, but it produces a lot of stress on the spine and repeated sprains cause degeneration and cervical spondylosis which then become a constant source of pain. Most severe spondylotic changes occur in those who have sustained repeated sprains other than congenital deformities. Shifting your T.V. in your room could be the cause as the height of the table on which the T.V. is placed could be making you keep your neck in flexion or extension, increasing the spasm resulting in pain. There could be other factors also, as the height of the chair you are using, the lighting in your room, or the posture in which you are watching the T.V. Try to ascertain the cause and rectify it. Basically, you should follow a few precautions at work and leisure. 1. While shaving, do not tilt the head backwards. Hold it straight and shave. 2. Do not work at your desk continuously. Take frequent breaks when possible. 3. Work at eye level. If the table is low, have a podium kept on table at even level. 4. Do not try to reach things above your head. Use a step ladder. 5. Try to use common sense while lifting heavy objects. Do not strain. 6. Avoid long drives. Make a stop every 50-75 kms. Adjust the head rest so that the head is well supported. Adjust the speed in keeping with the conditions of the road. Do not speed up unnecessarily lest frequent applications of brakes should wrench your neck. 7. Use a firm mattress and keep your head level. 8. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your back or on your side. 9. Learn the neck exercises (range of motion exercises) from your physiotherapist and do them at least three times a day. Yes, I suggest, when you come to Pune, do visit an orthopaedician. You can see Dr.K.H.Sancheti; Director and chief orthopaedic Surgeon; Sancheti Institute of orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Shivaji Nagar, Pune.

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