“Sprain” is not a great word to describe a cervical injury even though we all use it. Sprain means an injury to a ligament but does not describe the ligament or how severe the sprain really is.
The neck has many ligaments, capsules and even the disc and any injury to any of them could be considered a sprain.
If the term sprain is used in the classic sense,it would be very difficult to identify a sprain on an MRI.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.