How is a neck sprain diagnosed?

A physical examination will review your posture, ability to move, and the position of your head and chin. The doctor will inspect the blood vessels in your neck and may listen to them with a stethoscope. He or she also may check:

  • The range of motion of your neck
  • The muscle strength in your arms
  • Your reflexes
  • Whether or not you can detect sensations

Imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used, but most people with suspected neck sprain do not need these tests.

An MRI is a painless, noninvasive test that produces very clear pictures, or images of the human body without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images.

A CT scan is an X-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images with the help of a computer to create cross-sectional views of the body.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2014.

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