Intervertebral sprains are ligament injuries to any of the ligaments of the spine. This can happen in any part of the spine, although the neck and upper back are more common.
There are a number of ligaments which connect each vertebra to the ones above and below it. These run between the bodies of the ligaments and also the transverse and spinal processes (sticky out bits at the sides and back!).
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of a ligament. This occurs as a result of a sudden movement which over stretches the ligament. Ligaments are not stretchy as they are designed to stabilise joints, which means that a strong force can tear the ligament.
Intervertebral sprains occur due to fast or forceful movements of the back. This may happen in car accidents or falls, but also from less traumatic movements such as twisting or bending to pick something up.
Treatment of Intervertebral Sprains
- Most ligament sprains will heal by themselves within 1-4 weeks, depending on the severity.
- Resting the back and avoiding sudden or extreme movements will help.
- Use ice to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Your Doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen.
- Once comfortable to do so, start gentle range of motion and stretching exercises to regain full back movement.
- Sports massage may help to ease muscle spasms.
- If symptoms do not improve, there is pain on deep breaths or neural signs such as tingling or numbness, seek medical attention.