Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children skin wound warning signs Prevention Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Types Anatomy

Cervical Injury Home Care

Home care for a neck injury includes:

  • Perform wound care as directed by your doctor:
    • Clean the skin gently.
    • Use mild soap and water.
    • Do not scrub the skin.
    • Dry the skin.
    • Apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Apply warm compresses:
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours.
  • Rest your neck.
  • Avoid activities that cause neck pain.
  • After 2-3 days, start:
    • Neck stretching exercises
    • Neck range of motion exercises
  • Perform neck strengthening exercises.
    • After pain has resolved
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Cervical Injury Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with a neck injury include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Cervical Injury Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with a neck injury include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.



Cervical Injury Skin Wound

Home care for a skin wound due to a neck injury includes:

  • Control bleeding with direct pressure.
    • Use a gauze or clean cloth directly on the wound.
    • Maintain the pressure for at least 10 minutes.
    • Do not keep looking at the wound.
  • Clean the wound with mild soap and water. Running water can help remove dirt.
  • You may gently dab the wound with hydrogen peroxide to remove clotted blood or debris. Do not scrub or re-injure the wound.
  • Be sure there is no dirt or other foreign material left in the wound.
  • A butterfly bandage can be used to close very small, clean cuts.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing.
  • Cover the wound with gauze or elastic bandage.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Protect and rest the injured area.

Ongoing care for minor skin wounds includes:
  • Abrasions may be cleaned 2-3 times a day with a mild soap such as dilute baby shampoo.
  • Dry the wound gently, and completely, with a clean towel or gauze.
  • Apply an antibiotic and a dressing as needed.

Tetanus Considerations
Tetanus shots (boosters) can be given up to three days after an injury, as long as you have had all your tetanus shots in the past. A tetanus booster seldom needs to be given right at the time of the wound. This is not an emergency and can be done in the doctor's office or clinic.

A tetanus shot is necessary right away if you have not had three tetanus shots at any time in your life.

You need a tetanus shot within three days for:
  • A dirty wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the last five years
  • A clean, minor wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the last ten years

Cervical Injury Warning Signs

Continue to Cervical Injury Prevention

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cervical Injury References
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  2. Hoffman JR, Wolfson AB, Todd K, Mower WR. Selective cervical spine radiography in blunt trauma: methodology of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS). Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Oct;32(4):461-9. [9774931]
  3. Joslin CC, Khan SN, Bannister GC. Long-term disability after neck injury. a comparative study. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2004 Sep;86(7):1032-4. [15446533]
  4. Kasch H, Stengaard-Pedersen K, Arendt-Nielsen L, Staehelin Jensen T. Headache, neck pain, and neck mobility after acute whiplash injury: a prospective study. Spine. 2001 Jun 1;26(11):1246-51. [11389391]
  5. Kerr D, Bradshaw L, Kelly AM. Implementation of the Canadian C-spine rule reduces cervical spine x-ray rate for alert patients with potential neck injury. J Emerg Med. 2005 Feb;28(2):127-31. [15707805]
  6. McIntosh AS, McCrory P. Preventing head and neck injury. Br J Sports Med. 2005 Jun;39(6):314-8. Review. [15911597]
  7. Nederhand MJ, Hermens HJ, IJzerman MJ, Turk DC, Zilvold G. Chronic neck pain disability due to an acute whiplash injury. Pain. 2003 Mar;102(1-2):63-71. [12620597]
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