A whiplash injury can be caused by a number of things including sports and falls, but it’s most commonly associated with auto accidents. Whiplash can be described as a sudden strain to the muscles, bones and nerves in the neck. It is caused when there’s a forceful, sudden hyperextension (usually whipping forward motion) followed by a hyperflexion (whipping violently back) which results in an injury. The injury arises when structures in your neck, including discs, ligaments, nerves or muscles are damaged. Oftentimes a small vessel tears after an accident and releases inflammatory substances in the neck, causing swelling and pain.
One main problem with a whiplash injury is that although it’s an acute injury, often symptoms are minor in the beginning and not felt until days later. This makes it hard for sufferers to get ahead of the injury before it becomes a chronic condition. It’s important for a person to seek a specialist as soon as they can if they think they have suffered injury from whiplash.
Symptoms Felt From a Whiplash Injury
Whiplash injuries can range from mild pain for a few days to severe disability. Whiplash injuries don’t just affect the neck, they can also affect the upper back, shoulders and brain. Much of the pain is felt in the neck, but it can stem out to adjoining parts of the body and even create cognitive symptoms such as being easily distracted or irritated.
Fortunately, the vast majority of neck pain goes away within a few days and even more so within three months. However, studies show that anywhere between 12 percent and 50 percent of people still have persistent neck pain a year after suffering from whiplash.
The Importance of Early Treatment
It’s best to start rehabilitation as soon as possible when it comes to whiplash. Patients who have entered a rehabilitation program immediately after the injury have said they were able to control their pain and were able to go back to their daily activities sooner.
Early treatment can be as simple as ice/heat therapy and deep tissue massage to help the torn soft tissue heal correctly to help avoid pain. Other times it may require more in depth treatment like chiropractic adjustments or neck decompression on a routine basis until pain subsides.
How We Treat Whiplash
Our patients that seek treatment for whiplash get prescribed a plan by one of our doctors. This may incorporate services such as ice/heat therapy, deep tissue massage, and therapeutic rehabilitation. Normally, a patient will come in and describe the injury to the doctor, and he will provide an exam and determine if x-rays are necessary. After he has assessed the issue, he will provide the patient with the results and recommend a course of action for rehab. Our treatments don’t rely on the use of painkillers or surgery to provide lasting, pain-free results.
If you would like to speak with one of our doctors about whiplash, please contact us today. Consultations are free.