Strengthening the Ligaments of the Neck

Neck pain is a common complaint; over 50 percent of people complain of neck pain during the course of a year, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's McKinley Health Center. Ligaments attach bone to bone; stretching the ligaments too far or tearing them causes pain. Strengthening the ligaments can reduce the risk of neck injury. Ask your doctor before starting any type of therapy designed to strengthen your neck ligaments.

Exercises

A therapist exercising a patient's neck. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

The simplest way to strengthen neck ligaments is with neck exercises, but this may not work for severe ligaments sprains or ligaments that have become lax or stretched beyond their normal limits. If you have a mild sprain, exercises may help strengthen the ligament once it heals. Registered nurse Michèlle Feinstein suggests some stretching and strengthening exercises on her website, Wholistic Health Works. Put your chin to your chest and hold the position for 10 seconds. Turn your head to the left and then the right, holding again for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times for each exercise. If your neck hurts, stop.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy under the guidance of trained therapists can help strengthen weakened ligaments. Physical therapists may prescribe exercises or have you work with equipment to strengthen ligaments to prevent injury or rebuild damaged tissue. Do only as much as your therapist prescribes; rushing the process may cause further injury.

Prolotherapy

Injections into the damaged area may help tissue heal. In a treatment called prolotherapy, your doctor injects irritating substances into the ligament. The irritation induces inflammation, which helps the area heal by increasing blood flow and white blood cells. Over the first two weeks, white blood cells called fibroblasts migrate to the area and start building new collagen fibers. Within the next three to six weeks, the collagen fibers repair and tighten the stretched and damaged ligaments, strengthening them.

Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be the only way to strengthen severely damaged or torn ligaments. If you have a severe tear in the ligament, it may not heal without surgery. Your doctor probably will suggest alternatives before resorting to surgery.

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