Neck Injuries : Rugby Injuries

Unfortunately, Neck Injuries are somewhat common in rugby, especially compared with the number of Neck Injuries resulting from many other sports like football. The various intricate muscles and bones of the neck are easily damaged, and Neck Injury can be extremely serious and of particularly high concern.

What causes Neck Injuries?

Perhaps one of the primary causes of rugby-related Neck Injury is scrums. Whilst scrumming, players may hyperextend the neck whilst putting extreme pressure on it in an attempt to win the scrum. Other common causes of rugby-related Neck Injury are awkward or high-impact falls and overly-rough tackles. The competitive ‘macho’ temperament of players during rugby games may lead to worsening already serious Neck Injuries. The rules of rugby mean that injured players may not return to play in that game, and as a result players often disregard pain and injury in an attempt to carry on playing. There are many different kinds of Neck Injury, ranging from the minor to the extremely serious:

Neck muscle spasms and strains, commonly known as ‘stiff neck’, are relatively minor injuries. These may be painful, but can be easily solved by resting the neck muscles. Stress and over-using the muscles are often causes of this kind of injury. You should expect to recover within a week from this injury, and the only symptoms may be pain and stiffness.

Cervical disc prolapse, often known as a ‘slipped disc’, can be extremely painful. Although there may be no swelling around the neck, disassociating this injury from cervical fractures, symptoms may include a rigid, stiff neck and neck tenderness.

Neck fractures, otherwise known as cervical fractures, are the most serious kinds of Neck Injury. A fracture is a consequence of breaking a bone in your neck. This kind of injury should not be taken lightly, and can lead to paralysis or worse, due to the spinal cord and key nerves being located in your neck. Symptoms may include extreme pain, inflammation and bruising, inflexibility, frailty of the neck, unsteadiness of the neck as well as extreme tightening, sometimes known as ‘locking’ of the neck.

Prevention of Neck Injuries

One way to prevent injury is to ensure your team is appropriately matched, in terms of skill levels, against the opposing team. Neck injuries are often a result of amateur players competing with more skilled rugby players and injuring themselves. In addition, you can perform various neck exercises prior to rugby games to both strengthen the neck muscles. Rotation of the neck, whilst keeping the rest of the body still, is particularly effective in strengthening the neck muscles. Crucially, you should ensure that if you ever have a suspicion you have sustained a neck injury, you should cease play immediately and seek treatment. Although, of course, this won’t prevent the initial injury, it may prevent it from getting significantly worse.

Treatment for Neck Injuries

As with most injuries, the appropriate treatment depends upon the kind of injury and its severity. For strains and spasms you may apply a cold compress and rest the neck muscles, your neck may recover within a week. For any other kind of neck injury, like a ‘slipped disc’or broken neck, remain as still as possible. Match officials will have recognised your response and acted accordingly to summon medical treatment.

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