Whiplash injury, also commonly known as neck strain, is often caused by the sudden and forceful jerk in the neck, forward or backward. This often results in the tear of the muscles, tendons, or ligaments and is caused by car accidents, sports injury, physical abuse, or trauma. Fortunately, this injury is not fatal but if not taken care of, could lead to partial or prolonged disability. To help you further deal with this situation, if it ever occurs, here are some facts that you need to know about whiplash treatment, symptoms, pain, and causes.
Whiplash pain is often hard to ignore. Yet, to understand whether the pain is due to a whiplash injury, here are some signs to look out for. A person may feel pain-
- While moving their head sideways or front and back
- When trying to move their head to look over the shoulder
- The head aches at the base of the skull, which then diverges towards the forehead
Often, the symptoms of a whiplash injury are delayed by 24 hours or more after the initial trauma. Nevertheless, a person might notice one or more of the symptoms listed below within the first few days after injury.
- Pain in the neck with reduced mobility
- Tightness in the neck, like the muscles may feel hard or knotted
- Pain between the shoulder blades or shoulders
- Numbness in the hand or arms
- Difficulty in concentrating or recalling memory
- Sleep disorder, Irritability, weariness
Sometimes, a whiplash injury can also cause concussions, which can lead to serious problems and hence requires medical attention right away. Additionally, whiplash injury patients need immediate medical care if they-
- Have a persistent and worsening headache
- Feel weak
- Have trouble talking
- Feel confused
- Are excessively sleepy
- Are unconscious
Diagnosis of Whiplash Injury
Your doctor will carry out a thorough examination to determine whether the pain that is being experienced is from a whiplash injury or not. Your doctor might first order an X-ray to rule out any another existent injury or a degenerative disease like arthritis. If the whiplash injury is determined, further tests like CT scans, DTI, PET scans, and MRI will be suggested to understand the level of damage to the soft tissues, nerves, or spinal cord.
Depending on the level of injury, whiplash should heal on its own within a certain period. Yet, for a speedy recovery, here are some recommendations for whiplash treatment for you.
- Use an ice-pack, wrapped in cloth or towel, to help and reduce the pain and swelling in your neck. This procedure should be carried out soon after the injury occurs. The procedure should be carried out for 15 minutes, every 3-4 hours for a duration of 2-3 days.
- Ask your doctor if they would recommend any painkillers to help with the pain or swelling. It must be kept in mind that these drugs can have side effects, which is why they must be taken as prescribed.
- You may use a neck brace or collar to support your neck if your doctor recommends it. However, these aids are not advised for long-term use since they may weaken the muscles in the neck region.
- After having iced the injured area for 2-3 days, as a part of the whiplash treatment, patients can start using heat on their neck when the swelling subsides. For doing this, patients can use warm towels, wet towels, or take a warm bath.
- Ultrasound and massage, if recommended by your doctor, can also help as a whiplash treatment.
- Once the critical symptoms of whiplash are gone, your doctor will suggest taking rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles of your neck. This whiplash treatment procedure also ensures that the patient reduces the odds of straining their neck again in the future.
Patients are advised not to strain themselves with any heavy work responsibilities before the whiplash injury is healed completely or it might lead to chronic neck pain or permanent injury.
There isn’t much you can do to prevent a whiplash injury that happens due to an accident. However, in other cases, there are steps you can take to improve the odds, which are as follows.
- Practice neck exercises that can assist in keeping your neck muscles strong and limber. This is especially important if you have experienced a whiplash injury before.
- Take regular breaks to stretch your neck, if your work demands you to sit at one place all day. This will loosen up your muscles and keep them flexible.
HCAH is equipped with a team of trained and experienced physiotherapists, who have the expertise of providing outcome-based treatment for a range of conditions including whiplash injury, knee pain, and back pain among others. To know more about their at-home physiotherapy services and treatments or to book a home visit, call 1800 102 4224 (toll-free).