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What Causes Painful Neck Along With Stiffness In Neck?

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Posted on Tue, 25 Nov 2014
Question: I was in an Mva on Tuesday. No neck pain at the time or head pain. I went to family doc he checked me there no neck problems. I woke up wed with some neck pain. I took ibuprofen and felt better. Woke up Thursday more neck pain took ibuprofen and used heating pad felt better. Woke up Friday with extreme neck pain. Muscles at neck base hurts touch and pain with turning head. Tried ibuprofen with no success. I was given Vicodin for fractured ribs that didn't help neck pain at all. Woke up today stiffness in neck and difficulty turning neck. I am having problems sleeping due to pain in neck. Do I just have whiplash? Is this normal to get much worse before better?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (29 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
More likely a neck muscle spasm, please keep watch

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXXXX,
Thanks for writing in to us.

I have read your query in detail.
Sorry to hear about your discomfort and wish you a quick recovery.

In my experience with patients involved in minor MVAs there is little pain on the first day and during 24 hours after the trauma in most people. The pain subsequently intensifies from day 2 or 3 onwards and reaches a plateau. Following that it may take another 3 - 4 days before you start feeling normal pain. This is mainly due to the muscles going in to spasm and might take a week to recover. A whiplash injury is due to sudden bending forwards and backwards and such a condition might take 6 weeks to 6 months to heal.

There are paravertebral muscles on either side of midline, extending from the upper neck till the mid back level. During any sudden neck movement, these muscles get suddenly contracted. This leads to spasm and inflammation of the muscles. The pain is more from the second day because the chemical of inflammation take some time to pool in the muscles and then this is appreciated as pain.

Instead of only ibuprofen, I suggest you apply ointments containing a muscle relaxant and pain reliever combination. As there are rib fractures also, the pain may not allow you to turn your back for few days.

If you had a bad accident, then whiplash injury cannot be entirely ruled out, especially if you are having the following symptoms which develop within 24 hours of the injury and may include:

Neck pain and stiffness
Headaches, most commonly at the base of the skull
Dizziness
Blurred vision
Fatigue

Medical literature says that there is no role for MRI imaging in the routine work-up of patients with acute whiplash injury who have normal plain radiographic findings and no evidence of a neurologic deficit. So we really will never know if you have a whiplash injury even by doing an MRI scan and the diagnosis can be made based on your persisting symptoms for more than a week.

I would be glad to discuss any X ray or imagine done for your neck after the accident.

Most people recover from whiplash in just a few (up to 6) weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury (for 6 months or more).

If the spasm and stiffness is present for more than a week then probably you have a mild whiplash injury to your neck.

Hope this answers your question. Please feel free to correct any oversight in my interpretation of your problems and discuss them in detail as per your requirements.

Hope your query is answered.
Do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Dr.Vivek
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Vivek Chail (5 minutes later)
I appreciate your time. I think you answered my questions! I do think muscle spasm is my problem after reading your explanation.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (8 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Please apply muscle relaxants

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXXXX,
Thanks for writing back with an update.

I too feel it must be a severe muscle spasm you are having and the rib fractures have also contributed to your pain.

Please avoid sudden neck movements and make your sleep comfortable by using additional pillows and sleep to the side such that the pain in less.

Do apply a muscle relaxant to get early relief from the spasms.

Wishing you a quick recovery.

Hope your query is answered.
Do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Dr.Vivek
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Vivek Chail

Radiologist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 6857 Questions

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What Causes Painful Neck Along With Stiffness In Neck?

Brief Answer: More likely a neck muscle spasm, please keep watch Detailed Answer: Hi XXXXXX, Thanks for writing in to us. I have read your query in detail. Sorry to hear about your discomfort and wish you a quick recovery. In my experience with patients involved in minor MVAs there is little pain on the first day and during 24 hours after the trauma in most people. The pain subsequently intensifies from day 2 or 3 onwards and reaches a plateau. Following that it may take another 3 - 4 days before you start feeling normal pain. This is mainly due to the muscles going in to spasm and might take a week to recover. A whiplash injury is due to sudden bending forwards and backwards and such a condition might take 6 weeks to 6 months to heal. There are paravertebral muscles on either side of midline, extending from the upper neck till the mid back level. During any sudden neck movement, these muscles get suddenly contracted. This leads to spasm and inflammation of the muscles. The pain is more from the second day because the chemical of inflammation take some time to pool in the muscles and then this is appreciated as pain. Instead of only ibuprofen, I suggest you apply ointments containing a muscle relaxant and pain reliever combination. As there are rib fractures also, the pain may not allow you to turn your back for few days. If you had a bad accident, then whiplash injury cannot be entirely ruled out, especially if you are having the following symptoms which develop within 24 hours of the injury and may include: Neck pain and stiffness Headaches, most commonly at the base of the skull Dizziness Blurred vision Fatigue Medical literature says that there is no role for MRI imaging in the routine work-up of patients with acute whiplash injury who have normal plain radiographic findings and no evidence of a neurologic deficit. So we really will never know if you have a whiplash injury even by doing an MRI scan and the diagnosis can be made based on your persisting symptoms for more than a week. I would be glad to discuss any X ray or imagine done for your neck after the accident. Most people recover from whiplash in just a few (up to 6) weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury (for 6 months or more). If the spasm and stiffness is present for more than a week then probably you have a mild whiplash injury to your neck. Hope this answers your question. Please feel free to correct any oversight in my interpretation of your problems and discuss them in detail as per your requirements. Hope your query is answered. Do write back if you have any doubts. Regards, Dr.Vivek