Many of us would have heard about this, and quite a few of us would have experienced it. Whiplash is a painful condition that is actually quite common. Knowing what to expect from a whiplash injury and how to treat it, will ensure that you get rid of the pain faster and more effectively.
What Is Whiplash?
Basically, whiplash occurs when there is a sudden acceleration and deceleration force on the neck. Most of you would have heard about it in people after car accidents. It is a very common injury after a crash, because of the excessive force placed on the neck in such a short time, causing an abnormal range of motion. It results in neck pain, as the soft tissues in your neck are injured.
Whiplash neck injuries are not just caused by car accidents, a lot of sport collisions result in neck injuries, and whiplash is a common one. Any time that a force is applied over a very short amount of time to the neck, resulting in hyperextension or a larger range of motion than normal will often cause whiplash.
There are many ways that you can characterize whiplash. You need to note that the symptoms of whiplash can occur immediately after the accident, or even minutes or hours after. Usually the quicker the symptoms start to show, the more severe the injury and the potential damage is. Some common symptoms that you need to look out for if you suspect that you have a whiplash neck injury are:
- Neck pain
- Neck Swelling
- Tenderness along the back of your neck
- Spasms in your neck muscles
- Pain in the jaw
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Stiffness of your neck
- Decreased range of motion of your neck
- Pain shooting from your neck to your shoulder or your arm
- Back Spasms
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, you need to make sure that you go to seek medical care. Whiplash can often mask more serious injuries to the neck, and you need to make sure that you are safe to move around. It is an area that you don’t want to mess with, so if you fear you have a whiplash neck injury, take the safe route and get it checked out immediately.
Life After Whiplash
This book deals with a self-help approach to acute whiplash injury that will allow you to get back your usual life and will help you to reduce the risk of having your life disrupted indefinitely by your whiplash injury. This is achievable without special effort by most whiplash-injured people who heal over days to weeks, but others have to make a special effort to get back to their usual self. While physicians and therapists can help in various ways, ultimately you are the one to make it happen. In order to get back to your usual health, you can start by educating yourself.
Whiplash Injury Treatment
Treatment of whiplash neck injuries is going to differ depending on the severity of the injury. Obviously you need to get it checked out, and there are many things that can be done by the professionals, but there are also things you can do at home to ensure your injury does not become more severe. Nearly all whiplash patients have the ability to recover fully it is just a matter of getting the right treatment and doing the rights things at home.
Traditionally whiplash victims will get a collar placed on them in order to stop the range of motion. Although this is necessary as an initial measure, it has been recently shown that excessive rest and immobilisation can lead to chronic injuries and is actually a detriment in some cases. It can lead to a loss in range of motion, which means a lot more pain and stiffness. The longer you keep the neck immobilized, there is more chance of muscle atrophy and decreased blood flow, which will hinder healing significantly.
Physical therapy is important in the treatment of whiplash, as it enables the neck to develop a normal range of motion again. It can also help to reduce the muscle spasms and increase the circulation to the neck, which will promote healing. Physical therapy is often including heat therapy, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and exercises to help get a normal range of motion back. Massage is also used in later stages of treatment, and is very effective at reducing the inflammation and the stiffness of the neck.
Of course if the injury is very severe there are more intense modalities that can be used to treat whiplash, surgery is very rarely needed and is only considered in very severe cases.
Self Treatment Of Whiplash
So now you know a few things that will be done to you if you have suffered from a whiplash neck injury, but it is important to know that you can also help to treat it yourself, and following some important instructions and steps, you will be able to get back to health much faster than normal.
Initially when you suffer from a whiplash injury, you need to apply ice at home. This will help to reduce the swelling and the inflammation that is likely to occur. Less swelling and less inflammation means that you will keep a larger range of motion and it will take less physical therapy to bring it back to normal. Initially apply ice for 20 minutes, every hour for the first 24 hours.
If you have severe pain then you should be taking some anti inflammatory medicines as well. This will also help to stop the inflammation, and will take the edge of the pain you are feeling. Although medication should not be your first port of call, in a lot of cases it is necessary and very helpful in initial treatment.
If you see a doctor or a therapist, they will most likely massage you and also prescribe you some exercises. It is very important that you continue to do these exercises and stretches at home. If you have not been given any exercises, then simply try and move your neck around, stretch it in each direction. If you feel pain, you should stop the stretch. Only go to a point where you can pain free, and try to increase it each time. It is not complicated, but it is something that will help you recover faster and ensure that you don’t get long term damage.
Here is one exercise that you can do to help treat your whiplash. Make sure you consult with a doctor before you start, but it is pretty safe and very helpful. As soon as you feel pain, STOP! It means it is not helping. Combine this with some light stretching and neck rotations and you will be well on your way to achieving normal neck range of movement again.
Check out more about bulging disc treatment here, can definitely be a side effect of whiplash.