Cervical Sprain and Strain Medication

Updated: Sep 11, 2019
  • Author: Michael D Freeman, MedDr, PhD, MPH, FAAFS; Chief Editor: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD  more...
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Medication

Medication Summary

Early and appropriate treatment with analgesics for pain relief, with anti-inflammatory agents for inflammation, with muscle relaxants for spasms, and with aids for sleep disturbance, are the mainstay pharmaceutical therapies for cervical sprain/strain injuries.

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Nonopioid analgesics

Class Summary

Pain control is essential to high-quality patient care. Nonnarcotic analgesics ensure patient comfort and promote pulmonary toilet. These medications have sedating properties, which are beneficial for patients who have traumatic injuries.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, Aspirin-Free Anacin)

DOC for treatment of pain in patients with documented hypersensitivity to aspirin or NSAIDs or in patients with upper GI disease or who are taking oral anticoagulants

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Opioid analgesics

Class Summary

These agents are indicated for the medical treatment of moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lortab)

For relief of moderate to severe pain. Dose available with 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10 mg of hydrocodone. Total daily dose of acetaminophen should be considered; not to exceed 4 g/d. Individualize dose from qd to q4h, depending on degree of pain, effect of pain on patient's lifestyle, and need to keep blood levels of analgesic at therapeutic dose consistently or only intermittently.

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Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors

Class Summary

Although increased cost can be a negative factor, the incidence of costly and potentially fatal GI bleeds is clearly less with COX-2 inhibitors than with traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ongoing analysis of cost avoidance of GI bleeds will further define the populations for whom COX-2 inhibitors are most beneficial.

Celecoxib (Celebrex)

COX-1 is important for platelet aggregation, regulation of blood flow in the kidney and stomach, and regulation of gastric acid secretion. Inhibition of COX-1 may contribute to NSAID GI toxicity. COX-2 is considered an inducible isoenzyme, being induced during pain and inflammatory stimuli. Celecoxib inhibits primarily COX-2. At therapeutic concentrations, COX-1 isoenzyme is not inhibited; thus, GI toxicity may be decreased. Seek the lowest dose for each patient.

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents

Class Summary

These agents have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic activities. Their mechanism of action is not known, but they may inhibit cyclooxygenase activity and prostaglandin synthesis. Other mechanisms may exist as well; these include inhibition of leukotriene synthesis, lysosomal enzyme release, lipoxygenase activity, neutrophil aggregation and various cell-membrane functions.

Nabumetone (Relafen)

Nonacidic NSAID rapidly metabolized after absorption to a major active metabolite that inhibits cyclooxygenase enzyme, which in turn inhibits inflammation.

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Muscle relaxants

Class Summary

These medications are indicated for the relaxation of increased muscle tone, spasm, and rigidity associated with cervical strain syndromes.

Tizanidine (Zanaflex)

Indicated for treating muscle spasm in patients with cervical strain. Centrally acting muscle relaxant metabolized in the liver and excreted in urine and feces.

Carisoprodol (Soma)

Short-acting medication that may have depressant effects at the spinal cord level.

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)

Skeletal muscle relaxant that acts centrally and reduces motor activity of tonic somatic origins, influencing alpha and gamma motor neurons. Structurally related to tricyclic antidepressants and thus has some of their disadvantages.

Methocarbamol (Robaxin)

Reduces nerve impulse transmission from spinal cord to skeletal muscle.

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Tricyclic antidepressants

Class Summary

Disturbed sleep is often a significant symptom with cervical strain. If analgesics and muscle relaxants do not provide enough relief, medications such as low-dose antidepressants can be used. These agents have central and peripheral anticholinergic effects, as well as sedative effects.

Amitriptyline (Elavil)

Analgesic for certain types of chronic and neuropathic pain.

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Corticosteroids

Class Summary

These agents are used for severe inflammation (eg, radiculopathy) caused by the release of inflammatory chemicals from disc injury. These agents have anti-inflammatory properties and cause profound and varied metabolic effects. In addition, they modify the body's immune response to diverse stimuli.

Methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol, Depo-Medrol)

Indicated for treatment of severe pain and/or radiculopathy if inflammation is suspected.

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