The treatment for whiplash, a neck injury, depends upon the severity level. For minor cases, over-the-counter medications work just fine, however, for severe injuries, prescribed medications, or perhaps, physical therapy may be needed.
Whiplash is a common term used for neck injuries that occur from sudden forceful movement, which goes beyond the normal motion range of the neck. This usually occurs when a person has met with an automobile accident, but physical abuse may also be a cause. Women are more prone to suffer from these as compared to men, as their neck muscles are more sensitive and delicate.
The injuries vary from being mild to severe, and the treatment depends upon the severity of the condition. More than 50% cases experience a continuous pain, even months after the injury. The pain becomes chronic and can reach up to the joints, ligaments, and disks of the neck and back. Therefore, the earlier it is diagnosed, the better it is.
It is highly recommended to visit a trusted physician as soon as possible. He would check the movements of the neck and the difference in the range of motion in various directions. The doctor might also examine the tenderness of the neck when pressure is applied to it. Various tests and exams, including, X-rays, CT scans (computerized tomography), MRI’s (Magnetic resonance imaging), and some neurological exams may be conducted to diagnose the severity level.
Treatment and Recovery
Usually, whiplash along with back pain indicates that the matter is severe. Mentioned below are some treatment options that would help.
For Mild Cases
- Place an ice pack on the affected area for 20 to 25 minutes. Do this once every hour, at least for the first day. This helps in reducing the initial inflammation.
- You can also avail the benefits of over-the-counter pain relievers. Taking a dosage of paracetamol or ibuprofen helps in reducing inflammation. It is advisable to consult your doctor before taking these medications. In case you have stomach problems, acid reflux, ulcers, gastritis, or similar conditions, do not take ibuprofen.
For Severe Cases
- It is best to consult your doctor, who may prescribe painkillers as the first step towards treatment.
- If that is not enough, you may also be advised to take corticosteroid injections to get some relief from the muscle pain and spasms.
- Your doctor may also prescribe some muscle relaxants during bedtime, as they will help you get a painless sleep.
- The doctor will also continue with some effective ice and heat therapy. If required, a soft cervical collar may be advised to prevent mobilization of the neck for some time.
- You may also be instructed to perform some motion exercises, usually after 3 days of injury. These neck exercises are done to restore the flexibility, and to make the motion range back to normal.
- Any activity that leads to strain in the neck muscles would be restricted.
Follow-up is extremely necessary to make sure that the condition is under control. It is best to continue with the ice therapy, as it proves to be beneficial in getting some relief from the muscle spasms and pain. Restrain yourself from the activities that would strain the neck and cause pain. Avoid riding automobiles as they are the main cause of such injuries. If you have to drive a car anyway, always use a headrest and wear a seat belt. Make sure that you follow all that your doctor has advised you to do, and take adequate rest.
If you think that you would be able to handle a whiplash without consulting your doctor, then you are just inviting more complications. For effective treatment, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Take care.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice.