Damage to the tissues and structure of the neck. Most neck injuries are sustained as a result of a fall, direct blow, or a twisting movement. These acute neck injuries include strains, sprains, contusions, fractures, and dislocations. All the vital nervous and circulatory connections between the head and the body pass through the neck, therefore some neck injuries can lead to permanent disability. However, it is difficult to differentiate between injuries that are potentially disabling and those that have minor effects. Therefore, all athletes with acute neck injuries should be treated the same. It should be assumed that the injury is serious and emergency medical assistance sought urgently. Patients with suspected neck injuries should not be moved unless they are in danger of further injury. Most neck injuries occur in collision sports, such as American football and rugby. If a helmet is worn by a patient with a neck injury, it should not be removed on the field unless there is a danger of respiratory distress coupled with an inability to access the airway. If removal is essential, it should be performed only by trained personnel. Neck strengthening, acquisition of appropriate skills, and good refereeing can reduce the risk of serious neck injuries occurring in collision sports.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.